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SELECTED    SPEECHES 


OF   THE   LATE   RIGHT   HOX.    THE 


EARL    OF    BEACONSFIELD 


VOL.  n. 


LONDON  :    PRINTED  BY 

8POTTI8WOODK    AND    CO.,    NEW-STREET    8QDARH 
AND    PARLIAMENT    8TBEET 


SELECTED    SPEECHES 


THE 


HONOURABLE    THE 


ARRANGED   AND   EDITED 


WITH  INTRODUCTION  AND  EXPLANATORY  NOTES 


T.  E.  KEBBEL,  M.A. 


ith  a     orfrait 


m 


,;  J'-l 


VOLUMES  -  VOLUME    II. 


LONDON 
LONGMANS,    GEEEN,     AND     CO. 

1882 


All    rights   reserved 


CONTENTS 


OF 


THE   SECOND    VOLUME. 


PART  I. 
FOREIGN  AFFAIRS. 

OUR  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,  FEB.  18,  1853 

PROSECUTION  OF  WAR,  MAY  24,  1855 

VOTE  OF  CENSURE— DENMARK  AND  GERMANY,  JULY  4,  1864  .' 
SPEECH  ON  PROPOSING  VOTE  OF  THANKS  TO  FORCES  ENGAGED   IN 
THE  ABYSSINIAN  EXPEDITION,  JULY  2,  1868         .        .        .    • 

BLACK  SEA  CONFERENCE,  FEB.  24,  1871 

BULGARIAN  ATROCITIES,  AUG.  11,  1876 

CALLING  OUT  RESERVE  FORCES,  APRIL  8,  1878 

BERLIN  TREATY,  JULY  18,  1878    .  c     . 

REPLY  TO  DUKE  OF  ARGYLL,  MAY  16,  1879      . 

SPEECH  ON  ADDRESS,  JAN.  7,  1881 •    • 


PAGE 

3 

41 
81 

128 
133 
151 
161 
179 
203 
219 


PART   II. 
INDIAN  AND    COLONIAL  SPEECHES. 

ROYAL  TITLES  BILL,  MARCH  9,  1876        .        .        .        .  .-•'.    231 

AFGHAN  WAR,  DEC.  10,  1878      .        .        .'       .    •'.      ;•  .    .    240 

WAR  IN  SOUTH  AFRICA,  MARCH  26,  1879        ...  .        .252 

EVACUATION  OF  CANDAHAR,  MARCH  4,  1881         .        ;        •  •    •    201 


CONTENTS  OF  THE  SECOND  VOLUME. 


•  Q     P^RT   III. 
IRELAND. 


PAGE 


IEJSH  ELECTION  PETITIONS  (MAIDEN  SPEECH),  DEC.  7,  1837       .    .    275 
ARMS  BILL,  IRELAND,  AUG.  9,  1843          .        .        .  282 

AMENDMENT  TO  ADDRESS,  FEB.  1,  1849        ...  294 

THIRD  READING  IRISH  CHURCH  BILL,  MAY  31,  1869       .  297 

SPEECH  ON  ADDRESS,  FEB.  8,  1870       .        .  -     .  316 

SECOND  READING  IRISH  LAND  BILL,  MARCH  11,  1870     .  339 

WESTMEATH  COMMTTTEE,  FEB.  27,  1871        .        .  363 

IRISH  UNIVERSITY  EDUCATION  BILL,  MARCH  11,  1873      .  359 

COMPENSATION  FOR  DISTURBANCE  BILL,  AUG.  3,  1880  394 

PROTECTION  TO  'PERSON  AND  PROPERTY  BILL,  MARCH  1,  1881         .    408 

} 
PART  IV. 

PARTY  SPEECHES  AND   GENERAL  POLITICS. 

THE  LABOURS  OF  THE  SESSION,  AUG.  30,  1848    .    •  415 
BANQUET  AT  SLOUGH  TO  MEMBERS  FOR  BUCKINGHAM,  MAY  26,  1858    457 

SPEECH  AT  EDINBURGH  ON  REFORM  BILL,  OCT.  29,  1867   .  470 

CONSERVATIVE  PRINCIPLES  (MANCHESTER),  APRIL  3,  1872       .  490 

CONSERVATIVE    AND    LIBERAL    PRINCIPLES     (CRYSTAL     PALACE) 

JUNE  24,  1872  ,OQ 

'  •  •  •       •       •>!_•> 

EXPLANATION  IN  HOUSE  OF  COMMONS,  MARCH  20,  1873  .  536 

PAET  V. 
THE  CHURCH  OF  ENGLAND. 

THE  PRESENT  POSITION  OF  THE  CHURCH,  Nov.  14,  1861  555 

THE  FUTURE  POSITION  OF  THE  CHURCH,  OCT.  30,  1862  .  667 

ON  ACT  OF  UNIFORMITY,  JUNE  9,  1863       f       .  681 

ON  CHURCH  POLICY,  Nov.  25,  1864         .        .       ..f  696 


CONTENTS  OF  THE  SECOND   VOLUME.  vii 

PAKT   VI. 
MISCELLANEO  US. 


PAGE 


LITERARY  MIND 618 

BOTAi  LITERARY  FlTND 630 

BROMPTON  HOSPITAL 633 

DEATH  OF  PRINCEALBERT       .  644 


SPEECHES 

OF    THE 

EARL    OF    BEACONSFIELD, 


VOL,  II -PART  I. 
FOREIGN    AFFAIRS. 


OUR  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE    .        .        .  FEB.  18,  1853.. 

PROSECUTION  OF  WAR MAY  24,  1855. 

VOTE  OF  CENSURE,  1864 JULY  4,  1864. 

SPEECH  ON  PROPOSING  VOTE  OF  THANKS 
TO  FORCES  ENGAGED  IN  THE  ABYS- 
SINIAN EXPEDITION JULY  2,  1868.. 

BLACK  SEA  CONFERENCE        ....  FEB.  24,  1871. 

BULGARIAN  ATROCITIES AUG.  11,  1876. 

CALLING  OUT  RESERVE  FORCES  .        .        .  APRIL  8,  1878. 

BERLIN  TREATY JULY  18,  1878. 

REPLY  TO  DUKE  OF  ARGYLL ....  MAY  16,  1879. 

SPEECH  ON  ADDRESS        ....  JAN.  7,  188L 


VOL.   II. 


Cutario 


OUE  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,  Feb.  18,  1853.1 

[The  object  of  this  speech  was  the  same  as  many  others  delivered 
by  Mr.  Disraeli  about  the  same  date,  to  show,  namely,  that  the  coali- 
tion ministry  of  Lord  Aberdeen  was  bound  together  by  no  common 
principles  either  of  foreign  or  domestic  policy.  On  the  present  occasion 
he  quoted  speeches  of  Lord  John  Russell,  Sir  James  Graham,  and  Sir 
Charles  Wood  on  the  Government  lately  established  in  France  by 
Louis  Napoleon,  and  asked  which  of  the  three  expressed  the  opinion 
of  the  cabinet.  The  most  interesting  and  amusing  part  of  the  present 
speech  begins  at  page  15.] 

8 IK,  I  wish  before  the  House  goes  into  Committee  of  Supply, 
to  make  some  inquiries  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  with 
respect  to  our  relations  with  France.  It  is  the  most  important 
subject  of  modern  politics.  We  have  now,  Sir,  for  nearly  forty 
years,  had  the  blessing  of  peace  between  Great  Britain  and 
France.  During  that  interval  the  social  relations  of  the  two 
countries  have  become  various  and  multiplied.  Our  commer- 
cial transactions  during  that  interval  have  gradually,  progres- 
sively, and  considerably  increased  ;  and  at  the  right  opportunity, 
and  under  favourable  circumstances,  no  doubt,  with  enlightened 
legislation,  those  commercial  transactions  are  susceptible  of 
considerable,  and  perhaps  indefinite,  development. 

There  are  two  countries  which  may  be  esteemed  nrst-rclass 
Powers,  between  whom  all  questions  of  high  policy  are  so  far 
identical.  It  is  somewhat  strange  when  we  have  so  many 
guarantees  for  a  permanent  good  understanding  between  the  two 
countries,  so  many  securities  for  that  peace  which  we  desire — 
when  the  past,  by  the  long  interval  of  tranquillity  that  has 
occurred,  proves  that  practically  there  are  sources  of  security 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Debates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

B  2 


4  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

which  are  valid  and  sufficient — it  is  extremely  strange  and 
startling  that,  under  such  circumstances,  an  idea  should  seem 
to  .have  entered  into  almost  every  man's  brain,  and  an  expres- 
sion into  every  man's  mouth,  that  we  are  on  the  eve  of  a 
rupture  with  that  country. 

I  don't  think  it  unreasonable,  therefore,  that  on  going  into 
Committee  of  Supply,  when  we  are  about  to  vote  large  sums  to 
sustain  the  armaments  of  the  country,  I  should  make  some 
inquiries  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  on  a  subject  of  such 
absorbing  interest,  and  offer  a  few  remarks  to  the  House  with 
respect  to  it  before  they  go  into  Committee.  All  must  feel  that 
on  such  a  topic  it  is  of  the  highest  importance  that  no  false 
opinion  should  take  possession  of  the  public  mind,  because  in  a 
free  country,  opinion  is  one  of  the  securities  of  peace,  as  it  is  also 
sometimes  one  of  the  causes  of  war ;  and  it  is  by  discussion, 
which  is  the  life  and  soul  of  a  society  like  ours,  that  we  arrive 
at  the  truth  on  subjects  which  often  to  the  danger  and  peril 
of  the  community  become  perplexed  and  obscure. 

I  know,  Sir,  there  are  persons  in  both  countries — persons 
born  and  bred  probably  during  the  last  great  struggle — who 
are  of  opinion  that  there  is  a  natural  hostility  between  the 
French  and  the  English  nations.  They  are  persons  who  may 
probably  be  placed  in  the  same  list  with  those  who  think,  or 
used  to  think,  that  five  per  cent,  is  the  natural  rate  of  interest. 
But  at  the  same  time  they  are  persons  influenced  in  many 
instances  by  very  sincere  and  patriotic  feelings,  and  their 
opinions,  though  they  may  be  inveterate  prejudices,  are  not  to 
be  despised  at  a  conjuncture  like  the  present.  I  know,  Sir, 
that  to  persons  influenced  by  such  a  conviction,  it  is  in  vain  to 
appeal  by  any.  of  those  economical  considerations  which  are 
often  mentioned  in  the  present  day.  I  know  that  it  is  in  vain 
to  impress  on  them  that,  in  an  age  favourable  to  industry, 
ancient  and  civilised  communities  are  diverted  from  thoughts 
of  war.  I  know  that  it  is  in  vain  to  appeal  to  the  higher  im- 
pulse of  that  philanthropy  which  many  of  us  believe  in  such 
communities,  in  societies  under  such  conditions  of  great  anti- 
quity and  advanced  civilisation,  to  be  mitigating  the  hearts  of 
nations.  But,  Sir,  I  think  it  right  to  appeal  to  stern  facts, 


OUE  HELATIONS   WITH  FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.  5 

which  cannot  be  disputed — to  the  past  conduct  of  men,  which, 
according  to  the  theories  of  these  individuals,  is  the  best  test 
of  what  their  future  behaviour  will  be  ;  and  I  must  say  that  I 
do  not  see  that  the  history  of  the  past  justifies  the  too  prevalent 
opinion,  that  between  England  and  France  there  is  a  natural 
rivalry  and  hostility.  I  know  very  well,  Sir,  that  if  you  go 
back  to  ancient  history — or  rather  to  the  ancient  history  of  the 
two  countries — that  you  may  appeal  to  Cressy  and  Poictiers, 
and  to  Agincourt,  and  believe  there  has  always  been  a  struggle 
between  the  two  countries,  and  that  that  struggle  has  always 
redounded  to  the  glory  of  England. 

But  it  should  be  remembered  these  were  not  so  much  wars 
between  France  and  England  as  between  the  King  of  France 
and  the  King  of  England  as  a  French  prince — that  the  latter 
was  fighting  for  his  provinces  of  Picardy  or  Aquitaine — and 
that,  in  fact,  it  was  not  a  struggle  between  the  two  nations.  I 
take  it  for  granted  that,  in  considering  this  point,  our  history 
need  not  go  back  to  a  more  distant  period  than  to  that  happy 
hour  when  the  keys  of  Calais  were  fortunately  delivered  over 
for  ever  to  the  care  of  a  French  monarch ;  and,  when  we  take 
that  view,  which  is  the  real  point  of  our  modern  history,  as  one 
that  should  guide  us  on  this  subject,  we  shall  observe  that  the 
most  sagacious  sovereigns  and  the  most  eminent  statesmen  of 
England,  almost  without  exception,  have  held  that  the  French 
alliance,  or  a  cordial  understanding  with  the  French  nation, 
should  be  the  corner-stone  of  our  diplomatic  system,  and  the 
keynote  of  our  foreign  policy. 

No  one  can  deny  that  both  Queen  Elizabeth  and  the  Lord 
Protector  looked  to  that  alliance  as  the  basis  of  their  foreign 
connections.  No  one  can  deny  that  there  was  one  subject  on 
which  even  the  brilliant  Bolingbroke  and  the  sagacious  Wai- 
pole  agreed — and  that  was  the  great  importance  of  cultivating 
an  alliance  or  good  understanding  with  France.1  At  a  later 
date  the  most  eminent  of  the  statesmen  of  this  country,  Mr. 
Pitt,  formed  his  system  on  this  principle,  and  entered  public 
life  to  establish  a  policy  which,  both  for  political  considerations 

1  On  this  head  see  some  interesting  remarks  by  Professor  Ranke,  History 
of  England,  vol.  v.  p.  393. 


6  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

and  commercial  objects,  mainly  depended  on  an  alliance  and 
good  understanding  with  the  French  nation.  And,  therefore,. 
Sir,  it  is  not  true  that  there  has  been  at  all  times,  or  at  most 
times,  a  want  of  sympathy  in  England  with  the  French  people  j 
but,  on  the  contrary,  the  converse  is  the  truth  ;  and  the  alliance 
and  good  understanding  that  has  prevailed  between  us  have,  in 
my  opinion,  been  a  source  of  great  advantage  to  both  countries, 
and  has  advanced  the  civilisation  of  Europe.  Even  what  has 
occurred  in  our  time  proves,  I  think,  the  truth  that  the  natural 
tendency  of  the  influences  that  regulate  both  countries  is  to 
peace ;  because  the  fact  that,  after  such  extraordinary  events 
as  the  European  revolutions  at  the  end  of  the  last  and  the 
beginning  of  this  century,  the  great  struggle  that  occurred,  and 
the  great  characters  that  figured  in  it — the  fact  that  all  should 
terminate  in  a  peace  of  so  permanent  a  character  as  that  which 
has  prevailed  proves  the  tendency  of  all  those  causes  which  in- 
fluence the  conduct  of  both  nations,  and  which  lead  to  peace, 
from  a  conviction  of  its  advantage  to  both  countries.  I  will 
not,  therefore,  dwell  further  upon  this  point,  except  to  express 
my  protest  against  the  dogma  which,  I  am  sorry  to  see,  has 
been  revived  of  late — not  merely  in  England,  although  it  is  too 
prevalent  in  this  country — that  there  is  a  feeling  of  natural 
hostility  between  the  nations  of  Great  Britain  and  France. 

Sir,  there  are  undoubtedly  more  novel  and  more  important 
causes  to  which  may  be  imputed  the  present  unfortunate 
opinion  that  is  prevalent  on  the  subject  of  our  relations  with 
France,  and  the  first,  and  the  most  important,  unquestionably,, 
may  be  found  in  the  increase  of  the  armaments  of  this  country. 
There  are  many  who  say,  whatever  may  be  the  assertions  of 
statesmen,  whatever  may  be  the  public  declaration  of  persons  in 
authority,  whatever  may  be  the  judgment  formed  by  sensible  and 
unimpassioned  men  of  the  circumstances  of  the  hour,  no  one  can 
deny  the  stern  conclusion  that  the  Government  of  this  country 
feels  the  responsibility  devolving  upon  it  of  increasing  its  arma- 
ments ;  and  with  what  object  can  it  be  increasing  its  armaments 
unless  it  is  from  a  fear  of  some  imminent  and  impending  danger 
from  a  foreign  foe,  and,  if  from  a  foreign  foe,  of  course  the 
nearest  and  the  most  warlike  of  those  that  can  be  our  enemies  ? 


OUR  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,  FEBRUARY   1853.  7 

Now,  Sir,  there  is  a  great  deal  very  plausible  on  the  face  of 
this  position  ;  nevertheless,  the  real  truth  is,  that  there  is  not 
in  the  circumstance  of  those  armaments  the  slightest  founda- 
tion for  the  belief  that  they  have  been  occasioned  by  recent 
transactions  in  France,  or  by  the  appearance  of  any  particular 
characters  who  have  taken  a  leading  part  in  the  transactions  of 
that  country.  The  origin  of  the  increase  of  our  armaments  for 
the  defence  of  this  country  is  of  a  date  much  more  remote  than 
the  incidents  which  are  appealed  to  as  the  cause  of  those  in- 
creased armaments.  The  origin  of  completing  and  increasing 
the  defence  of  this  country  finds  itself  in  those  great  changes 
which  have  occurred  in  most  of  the  affairs  of  life,  which  have 
principally  been  occasioned  by  the  application  of  science  to  the 
business  of  life,  and  which  application  of  science  has  not, 
among  many  circumstances  and  subjects,  spared  the  art  of  war. 
Those  who  from  their  position  were  responsible  for  the  defence 
of  this  country,  who  from  their  character  and  their  talents  were 
best  calculated  to  observe  the  great  changes  that  in  this  respect 
were  occurring,  long  and  many  years  ago  called  the  attention 
of  the  executive  Grovernment  of  this  country  to  that  important 
subject.  But  we  all  know,  especially  in  free  and  popular  com- 
munities, that  the  few  are  sensible  of  the  necessity  of  change 
before  the  multitude  are  convinced  of  that  necessity,  and  that 
it  is  extremely  difficult  to  bring  the  great  body  of  a  community 
to  agree  to  a  change,  of  the  necessity  of  which  they  are  not 
convinced.  And  the  Grovernment  of  this  country  many  years 
ago  attempted  to  adapt  the  position  of  the  country,  with  respect 
to  its  means  of  defence,  more  to  the  present  resources  for  that 
object  which  now  prevail ;  but  they  found,  of  course,  extreme 
difficulty  in  obtaining  the  assistance  of  the  House  of  Commons 
for  this  object,  when  increased  expenditure  was  a  necessary  con- 
dition of  the  change  ;  and  therefore  for  a  long  time  the  efforts 
were  few  and  feeble ;  although  the  convictions  of  the  cabinet 
of  the  day  were  deep  and  earnest  upon  the  subject. 

Well,  Sir,  there  then  happened,  some  ten  years  ago,  during 
the  Government  of  Sir  E.  Peel,  a  very  unexpected  incident, 
that  startled  even  the  two  nations  themselves  at  the  possibility 
of  a  war  occurring  between  the  two  countries.  The  cause  was 


8  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

almost  a  contemptible  cause  when  we  think  of  the  stake  at 
issue ;  but  there  is  no  doubt,  without  now  inquiring  into  the 
peculiar  circumstances  which  brought  the  crisis  to  such  a  fine 
position,  that  for  a  short  time  the  possibility  of  war  between 
England  and  France  was  not  entirely  out  of  question.  Well, 
Sir,  the  Government  of  that  day — ten  years  ago — took  advan- 
tage, of  course,  of  the  public  mind  being  somewhat  startled  and 
alarmed  upon  the  subject,  and  endeavoured,  even  when  the 
immediate  danger  had  passed,  to  lead  the  public  mind  to  the 
consideration  of  the  important  question  which  never  slept  in 
the  councils  of  the  cabinet ;  and  there  were  some  efforts,  and 
not  contemptible  efforts,  by  the  Government  of  Sir  Kobert 
Peel  at  least,  to  commence  a  new  system  with  regard  to  the 
public  defences  of  the  country.  The  people  of  this  country 
learnt  for  the  first  time  that  a  great  revolution  had  occurred  in 
the  art  of  war,  that  that  revolution  had  deprived  them  of  their 
ancient  and,  as  it  were,  natural  sources  of  defence,  and  they  be- 
gan generally  to  entertain  the  idea  that  they  must  adopt  other 
means  for  their  defence.  So  far  the  question  advanced ;  but, 
as  the  fulfilment  of  what  was  necessary  was,  of  course,  attended 
with  large  and  increased  expenditure,  and  as  there  was  a  natural 
objection  always  to  increasing  our  expenditure  for  the  sake  of 
armaments,  in  the  House  of  Commons,  the  question,  though  it 
became,  as  far  as  the  country  was  concerned,  from  that  time 
a  question  that  never  entirely  slept,  yet  advanced  but  slowly. 
There  was  controversy  still  whether  the  country  was  sufficiently 
defended  or  not,  whether  the  ancient  means  were  so  completely 
superseded  as  they  were  represented  to  be :  there  was  a  lingering 
superstition  in  reference  to  « the  wooden  walls  of  old  England.' 

Suddenly  we  had  a  series  of  revolutions  on  the  Continent, 
a  period  of  great  alarm  and  of  great  disturbance.  The  people 
of  this  country  were  at  last  convinced  that  the  dream  of  per- 
petual tranquillity  and  of  continual  improvement  might  be 
closed.  That  was  a  time  when  again  an  opportunity  was  offered 
to  the  Government  of  the  day  to  lead  popular  opinion  in  the 
direction  which  it  wished,  so  far  as  the  defence  of  the  country 
was  concerned.  The  words  of  one  of  the  greatest  of  our  men 
were  then  prevalent  round  every  hearth,  and  public  opinion 


OUE  EELATIONS  WITH   FEANCE,   FEBRUAEY   1853.  9 

^at  last  assumed  the  form  of  an  earnest  desire  to  complete  the 
defences  of  the  country.  I  have  no  doubt,  Sir,  that  whatever 
Government  existed,  they  would  loyally  and  completely  have 
fulfilled  that  which  was  necessary  to  be  done.  It  fell  to  the  lot 
of  the  late  Government  to  meet  the  requirements  in  this  respect 
of  England.  I  claim  no  merit  for  the  late  Government  more 
than  that  to  which  they  are  fairly  entitled  in  having  earnestly 
endeavoured  in  this  respect  to  do  their  duty.  When  they 
acceded  to  office  the  question  of  the  national  defences  was  ripe. 
No  doubt  if  the  Government  of  the  noble  lord  (Lord  John 
Eussell)  had  continued  in  office,  they  would  have  done  all  that 
was  required ;  it  fell  to  us,  however,  to  fulfil  that  duty,  and 
briefly  I  would  place  before  the  House  what  we  did  in  that 
respect.  During  the  time  that  we  were  responsible  for  the 
administration  of  affairs  with  regard  to  the  national  defences, 
we  established  a  Militia  upon  a  popular  principle — a  principle 
which  at  the  time  was  much  derided,  but  which,  notwithstanding 
the  opposition  that  we  received,  we  adhered  to,  and  which 
succeeded  in  producing  a  body  that  commands,  so  far  as  a  new 
force  of  that  character  can,  the  confidence,  and,  I  may  say,  the 
respect  of  the  country.  Sir,  we  secondly  placed  the  artillery 
of  the  country — that  important  arm — in  an  efficient  state. 
Thirdly,  we  introduced  measures,  or  we  prepared  arrangements, 
which  would  have  completely,  and  will  completely,  fortify  the 
arsenals  of  the  country,  and  some  important  posts  upon  the 
coast.  Fourthly,  we  increased  our  navy  by  a  proposition  which, 
when  carried  into  effect,  will  add  to  it  5,000  sailors  and  1,500 
marines ;  and,  fifthly,  we  made  arrangements  which  I  have  no 
doubt  will  be  well  completed  by  our  successors,  which  would 
have  established,  or  rather  will  establish,  the  national  garrison 
in  the  form  of  a  Channel  fleet,  an  efficient  Channel  fleet  of 
fifteen  or  sixteen  sail  of  the  line,  with  an  adequate  number 
of  frigates  and  smaller  vessels,  and  which,  when  these  plans 
are  completed — and  I  trust  they  will  be  speedily  completed — 
will  allow  a  Chanmel  fleet  of  that  force  to  rendezvous  at  a  very 
short  notice  from  three  or  four  ports.  Into  that  fleet  will  be 
introduced  all  those  modern  improvements  of  scientific  machi- 
nery which  now  are  available. 


10  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

These,  Sir,  were  the  plans  which  we  thought  it  our  duty 
to  submit  to  the  approbation  of  Parliament,  and  which  received 
the  approbation  of  Parliament — plans  which,  in  our  opinion, 
when  completed,  will  fulfil  all  that  is  necessary  for  the  defence 
of  the  country. 

I  was  very  glad  to  hear  from  the  noble  lord  the  Secretary 
of  State,  on  the  first  night  of  our  meeting,  that  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  do  not  propose  any  increase  of  the  army.  That  was  a 
subject  which  we  felt  it  our  duty  well  to  consider,  and  it  certainly 
was  our  opinion  that  no  such  increase  was  necessary.  I  have 
noticed  these  points  in  some  detail,  because  it  must  be  remem- 
bered that  one  of  the  principal  grounds  for  believing  that  the 
friendly  relations  between  France  and  England  are  about  to  be 
broken  is  the  increase  of  the  armaments  of  this  country. 
Myself,  however  humbly,  in  a  certain  degree  responsible  for 
that  increase,  I  wish  to  take  this  opportunity  of  pointing  out 
the  fallacy  of  that  conclusion.  Whoever  might  sit  upon  the- 
throne  of  France,  whether  it  be  a  Bourbon  or  a  Bonaparte, 
whatever  might  have  been  the  form  of  government,  however 
disturbed  or  however  tranquil  the  state  of  Europe,  those  who 
were  responsible  for  the  administration  of  affairs  in  this  country 
—I  care  not  from  what  party  or  from  what  section  they  might 
be  selected — would  sooner  or  later  have  felt  it  their  duty  to 
place  the  country  in  a  state  of  defence ;  that  duty  arising  from 
the  great  change  which  has  taken  place  in  the  art  of  war,  and 
the  means  by  which  offensive  or  defensive  operations  are  now 
conducted.  In  the  circumstance,  therefore,  that  England  has 
increased  its  armament  for  self-defence  I  find  no  reason  for  a 
moment  to  think  that  there  is  any  authority  for  the  too  pre- 
valent belief  to  which  I  have  alluded. 

Sir,  there  is  one  other  cause,  also  of  a  novel  character,  which 
has  been  alleged — which  is  daily  alleged — for  the  belief  in  this 
impending  rupture,  and  which  no  doubt  is  exceedingly  prevalent 
and  influential,  and  that  is  the  troubled  state  of  France  during 
latter  years — troubles  which  have  terminated  in  what  I  think 
is  fallaciously  styled  a  military  dynasty.  Now,  there  can  be  no 
doubt  that  the  founder  of  the  dynasty  that  now  reigns  in  France 
was  one  of  the  greatest  conquerors,  not  only  of  modern  but  of 


OUE  RELATIONS  WITH   FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.          II 

all  ages  ;  but  it  does  not  follow — and  history,  indeed,  contra- 
dicts the  position — that  the  descendants  of  a  conqueror  are 
necessarily  his  rivals.  Generally  speaking,  those  who  follow  a 
conqueror  are  inclined  to  peaceable  pursuits ;  and  when  we  find 
that  the  present  Emperor  of  the  French,  who  in  a  certain  sense 
must  be  said  to  owe  his  throne  to  his  connection  with  a  great 
conqueror,  is  not  even  by  profession  a  military  man,  we  find  a 
circumstance  which  further  enforces  the  truth  of  the  observation 
I  have  made. 

But  then  it  is  said  that  there  is  in  France  a  military 
Government,  and  that  that  country  is  at  this  moment  regulated 
by  the  army.  But  there  is  a  great  error  also,  I  apprehend,  if 
history  is  to  guide  us,  in  assuming  that  because  a  country  is 
governed  by  an  army  that  army  must  be  extremely  anxious  to 
conquer  other  countries.  When  armies  are  anxious  for  conquest 
it  is  because  their  position  at  home  is  uneasy,  because  their 
authority  is  not  recognised,  and  because  their  power  is  not 
felt.  It  is  the  army  returning  from  conquest  that  attempts  to 
obtain  supreme  power  in  the  State ;  but  if  an  army  does  possess 
supreme  power,  you  very  rarely  find  that  restless  desire  for 
foreign  aggression  which  is  supposed  to  be  the  inevitable  cha- 
racteristic of  a  military  force.  Now,  there  is  one  remarkable 
characteristic  of  the  present  military  Government  in  France, 
that  that  Government  has  not  been  occasioned  by  the  ambition 
of  the  army,  but  by  the  solicitation  of  classes  of  civilians,  of 
large  bodies  of  the  industrial  population  who,  frightened, 
whether  rightly  or  wrongly,  by  a  state  of  disturbances  and,  as 
they  supposed,  of  menacing  anarchy,  turned  to  the  only  dis- 
ciplined body  at  command  which  they  thought  could  secure 
order.  I  am  led,  therefore,  to  the  belief  that  in  the  circum- 
stance that  there  is  a  dynasty  founded  by  a  conqueror,  but 
which  is  not  a  warlike  dynasty,  and  that  France  is  governed  by 
the  army,  not  in  consequence  of  the  military  ambition  of  the 
troops,  but  in  consequence  of  the  disquietude  of  the  citizens,, 
there  is  no  reason  for  that  great  anxiety  which  is  now  prevalent. 

I  know,  Sir,  there  is  another  cause,  notwithstanding,  which 
may  occasion  extreme  embarrassment  and  dispute.  Although 
I  think  I  have  shown  to  the  House — if  that  were,  indeed,  neces- 


12  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

sary — that  the  increase  of  our  armaments  has  not  been  occa- 
sioned by  anything  but  the  inevitable  necessity  of  placing  this 
country  in  a  state  of  safety  and  defence,  and  not  by  any  changes 
in  foreign  countries ;  and  although  I  have  shown  the  House 
some  cause  to  believe  that  the  state  of  affairs  in  France  does  not 
necessarily,  as  some  suppose,  lead  to  military  aggression ;  yet, 
Sir,  I  admit  tb/at  there  are  reasons  at  this  moment  which  should 
make  men  uneasy,  and  that  there  are  causes  of  misconception 
between  the  two  nations  which  cannot  be  watched  too  narrowly, 
and  which,  if  neglected,  may  lead  to  disastrous  consequences : 
and  I  proceed  now  to  advert  to  them.  There  is  no  doubt  that 
there  is  a  considerable  prejudice  in  this  country  against  the 
present  ruler  of  France — I  say  it  without  reserve — for  two 
reasons.  It  is  understood  that  in  acceding  to  power  he  has  ter- 
minated what  we  esteem  a  Parliamentary  Constitution,  and  that 
he  has  abrogated  the  liberty  of  the  Press.  I  wish  to  put  the 
case — I  think  it  best  to  put  the  case — as  fairly  as  I  can  before 
the  House,  as  the  object  of  these  observations  is  to  put  an  end 
to  what  I  think — to  what  I  hope — is  a  very  mistaken  feeling,  and 
to  elicit  from  Her  Majesty's  Government  explanations  which  I 
trust  will  substantiate  that  belief  on  my  side. 

I  have  no  doubt — we  know — there  is  a  prejudice  against 
the  present  ruler  of  France  on  these  two  grounds.  It  is  un- 
necessary for  me  to  say  that  it  is  not  probable  I  shall  ever  say 
or  do  anything  which  would  tend  to  depreciate  the  influence  or 
to  diminish  the  power  of  Parliament  or  the  Press.  My  greatest 
honour  is  to  be  a  member  of  this  House,  in  which  all  my 
thoughts  and  feelings  are  concentred ;  and  as  for  the  Press,  I 
am  myself  a  «  gentleman  of  the  Press,'  and  I  bear  no  other 
scutcheon.  I  know  well  the  circumstances  under  which  we 
have  obtained  in  this  country  the  blessing  of  a  free  Press.  It 
is  only  a  century  and  a  half  ago  since  we  got  rid  of  the  censor- 
ship ;  and  when  we  had  got  rid  of  the  censorship  we  had  a  law 
of  libel  which,  for  nearly  a  century,  rendered  that  freedom  of 
the  Press  a  most  perilous  privilege.  Until  Mr.  Fox's  great 
Act  upon  the  law  of  libel,  no  public  writer  could  have  been  said 
to  be  safe  in  this  country.  I  mention  that  to  remind  the  House 
how  very  recent  is  the  date  of  our  real  enjoyment  of  the  Press 


OUR  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.  13 

in  this  country,  because  we  are  mainly  indebted  to  Mr.  Fox  for 
that  great  privilege  ;  and  the  House  will  recollect  that  during 
the  interval — not  a  very  long  interval,  little  more  than  half  a 
century — that  liberty  of  the  Press  has  been  often  modified, 
often  interfered  with  by  British  ministers  ;  and  that  modifica- 
tion and  that  interference  have  always  been  sanctioned  by 
British  Parliaments.  I  hope  we  live  in  happier  times  than 
those  which  preceded  us  in  that  respect.  I  hope  we  have 
arrived  at  a  conclusion  in  this  country  that  if  the  Press  is  free, 
it  should  enjoy  a  complete  freedom ;  that  the  best  protection 
against  the  excesses  of  the  Press  is  the  spirit  of  discussion, 
which  is  the  principle  upon  which  our  society  at  present  de- 
pends ;  and  I  think  that  all  parties  in  this  country  have  come 
to  the  conclusion  that  the  liberty  of  the  Press  is  the  most 
valuable  of  our  public  privileges,  because,  in  fact,  it  secures 
and  guarantees  the  enjoyment  of  all  the  rest ;  but,  at  the  same 
time,  it  is  always  advisable,  when  we  make  observations  on  the 
conduct  of  foreign  nations,  that  we  should  be  perfectly  satis- 
fied that  the  circumstances  in  those  countries  to  which  we  are 
applying  the  opinions  prevalent  in  our  own  are  identical  with 
the  circumstances  in  which  we  ourselves  are  placed. 

Now,  Sir,  with  all  my  love  of  the  liberty  of  the  Press,  with 
all  my  confidence  that  we  have  arrived  at  a  state  of  society  in 
England  which  will  prevent  any  minister  at  any  time  ever 
again  attempting  to  interfere  with  that  liberty  of  the  Press,  I 
am  still  conscious  that  we  enjoy  it  in  this  country  on  certain 
conditions  which  do  not,  in  my  opinion,  prevail  in  other 
countries:  namely,  of  a  long  established  order,  a  habit  of 
freedom  of  discussion,  and,  above  all,  an  absence  of  all  those 
circumstances  and  of  all  those  causes,  many  of  which  are  dis- 
turbing society  in  other  countries. 

Now,  I  will  take  a  case  as  an  example.  Suppose  that  in 
England  at  this  moment  we  had  the  greatest  of  all  political 
evils — let  us  suppose  that,  instead  of  our  happy  settlement,  we 
had  a  disputed  succession.  Let  us  suppose  that  we  had  a 
young  Charles  Stuart,  for  example,  at  this  moment  at  Breda, 
or  a  young  Oliver  Cromwell  at  Bordeaux,  publishing  their 
manifestoes,  and  sending  their  missives  to  powerful  parties  of 


14  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

their  adherents  in  this  country.  We  may  even  suppose  other 
contingencies.  Let  us  suppose  that  we  had  had,  in  the  course 
of  a  few  years,  great  revolutions  in  this  country — that  the  form 
of  our  government  had  been  changed — that  our  free  and  famous 
monarchy  had  been  subverted,  and  that  a  centralised  republic 
had  been  established  by  an  energetic  minority — that  that 
minority  had  been  insupportable,  and  that  the  army  had  been 
•called  in  by  the  people  generally  to  guard  them  from  the 
excesses  which  they  had  experienced.  Do  you  think  that, 
under  any  of  these  circumstances,  you  would  be  quite  sure  of 
enjoying  the  same  liberty  of  the  Press  which  you  enjoy  at  this 
moment  ?  Do  you  think  that  in  the  midst  of  revolutions,  with 
a  disputed  succession,  secret  societies,  and  military  rule,  you 
would  be  quite  certain  of  having  your  newspaper  at  your 
breakfast-table  every  morning  ? 

Sir,  these  are  considerations  which  ought  to  guide  us  when 
we  are  giving  an  opinion  upon  the  conduct  of  rulers  of  other 
nations.  There  is  no  doubt  the  circumstance  that  the  present 
ruler  of  France  has  stopped  that  liberty  of  the  Press  which  we 
so  much  prize  has  occasioned  great  odium  against  him  in  this 
country,  and  has  arrayed  the  feelings  of  the  powerful  Press 
of  England  against  the  French  Government.  I  myself  speak 
on  this  subject  with  no  other  feelings  towards  the  Emperor  of 
the  French  than  that  feeling  of  respect  which  we  ought  all  to 
entertain  for  any  sovereign  whom  Her  gracious  Majesty  has 
recognised  and  admitted  into  the  fraternity  of  monarchs.  1 
am  not  ashamed  or  afraid  to  say  that  I,  for  one,  deplore  what 
has  occurred  and  sympathise  with  the  fallen. 

Some  years  ago  I  had  occasion  frequently  to  visit  France. 
I  found  that  country  then  under  the  mild  sway  of  a  constitu- 
tional monarch ;  of  a  prince  who,  from  temper,  as  well  as  from 
policy,  was  humane  and  beneficent.  I  know,  Sir,  that  at  that 
time  the  Press  was  free.  I  know  that  at  that  time  the  Parlia- 
ment of  France  was  in  existence,  and  distinguished  by  its 
•eloquence  and  a  dialectic  power  that  probably  even  this,  our 
own  House  of  Commons,  has  never  surpassed.  I  know  that 
under  these  circumstance  France  arrived  at  a  height  of  material 
prosperity  which  it  had  never  before  reached.  I  know,  also, 


!.  OUR  RELATIONS   WITH   FEANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.  15 

that  after  a  reign  of  unbroken  prosperity  of  long  duration, 
when  he  was  aged,  when  he  was  in  sorrow,  and  when  he  was 
suffering  under  overwhelming  indisposition,  this  same  prince 
was  rudely  expelled  from  his  capital,  and  was  denounced  as 
a  poltroon  by  all  the  journals  of  England  because  he  did  not 
command  his  troops  to  fire  upon  his  people.  Well,  Sir,  other 
powers  and  other  princes  have  since  occupied  his  seat,  who 
have  asserted  their  .authority  in  a  very  different  way,  and 
are  denounced  by  the  same  organs  as  tyrants  because  they  did 
order  the  troops  to  fire  upon  the  people. 

I  said,  Sir,  that  I  deplore  the  past  and  sympathise  with  the 
fallen.  I  think  every  man  has  a  right  to  have  his  feelings 
upon  these  subjects ;  but  what  is  the  moral  I  presume  to  draw 
from  these  circumstances  ?  It  is  this :  that  it  is  extremely 
difficult  to  form  an  opinion  upon  French  politics  ;  and  that  so 
long  as  the  French  people  are  exact  in  their  commercial 
transactions,  and  friendly  in  their  political  relations,  it  is  just 
as  well  that  we  should  not  interfere  with  their  management 
of  their  domestic  concerns.  (Loud  cheers.)  I  am  glad  to  find 
the  House  is  of  the  opinion  which  I  have  ventured  to  express 
upon  this  important  subject.  I  do  not  say  that  it  is  not  cer- 
tainly the  privilege  of  the  English  Press,  or  of  any  foreign 
Press,  to  make  any  observations  they  may  please  upon  the 
conduct  of  foreign  rulers,  and  upon  the  conduct  of  foreign 
nations.  It  is  an  affair  of  discretion ;  it  is  an  affair  of  public 
wisdom.  Our  Constitution  has  entrusted  the  writers  in  public 
journals  with  the  privilege  of  expressing  their  opinions ;  they 
have  a  very  responsible  position ;  they  must  consider  what  is  the 
tendency,  and  what  may  be  the  consequences,  of  their  acts  ;  they 
have  a  right,  however,  to  act,  and  no  British  minister  and  no 
foreign  potentate  can  question  the  power  which  they  exercise. 

Well,  Sir,  what  was  the  feeling  of  the  Government  of  the 
noble  lord  opposite  (Lord  John  Eussell)  upon  the  subject  to 
which  I  am  alluding  ?  It  is  important  to  know  what  was  the 
feeling,  and  what  were  the  opinions  of  the  noble  lord  when  he 
himself  was  at  the  head  of  the  Grovernment.  It  is  a  pleasure 
to  turn  to  '  Hansard,'  not  to  twit  and  taunt  an  honourable 
gentleman  with  some  quotation  which  may  impugn  his  consis- 


16  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

tency,  btit  to  refer  to  a  statement  of  views  becoming  a  person- 
filling  the  noble  lord's  exalted  position,  and  expressed  with  all 
that  propriety  and  terseness  of  language  which  distinguish 
him. 

This  was  the  declaration  of  the  noble  lord  in  1852,  about 
a  year  ago,  almost  immediately  before  he  quitted  office.  These 
expressions  were  delivered  in  another  Parliament ;  there  are 
many  gentlemen  present  who  did  not  listen  to  them ;  they  are 
peculiarly  apposite  to  the  present  moment.  An  acquaintance 
with  the  opinions  of  a  great  minister  at  such  a  period  must  be 
interesting  to  all,  and  therefore  I  shall  make  no  excuse  for 
bringing  before  the  House  the  views  which  the  noble  lord  then 
professed,  and  which  I  most  sincerely  believe  he  now  entertains. 

'This,  however,'  said  the  noble  lord,  on  February  3,  1852, 
'I  am  bound  to  say,  that  the  President  of  France,  with  the 
large  means  of  information  which  he  possesses,  has  no  doubt 
taken  that  course  from  a  consideration  of  the  state  of  the 
country,  and  that  the  course  which  he  has  taken  is  that  best 
fitted  to  secure  the  welfare  of  the  country  over  which  he  rules. 
Let  me  restate  what  I  have  said  on  this  subject.' 

The  House  will  observe  that  the  noble  lord  spoke  with 
perfect  calmness.  It  was  not  a  speech  in  reply.  It  was  a 
speech  delivered  on  the  first  night  of  the  session.  It  was  a 
statement  well  matured  and  voluntarily  made ;  and,  that  he 
may  not  be  mistaken,  the  noble  lord  begs  permission  of  the 
House  to  give  a  summary  of  his  views,  and  to  restate  them. 
1  Let  me  restate,'  said  the  noble  lord,  '  what  I  have  said  upon 
this  subject. 

'  I  stated  I  could  not  give  my  approbation  to  the  conduct 
of  the  President ;  but  I  have  no  reason  to  doubt,  and  everything 
I  have  heard  confirms  that  opinion,  that  in  the  opinion  of  the 
President  of  France  the  three  things  which  I  have  mentioned — 
namely,  putting  an  end  to  the  French  Constitution,  preventing 
the  elections  of  1852,  and  the  abolition  of  the  Parliamentary 
Constitution — were  all  measures  conducive,  and  perhaps  essen- 
tial, to  the  welfare  of  France.  But  I  have  something  to  state 
further,  because  I  confess  I  have  seen  with  very  great  regret 
the  language  which  has  been  used  by  some  portion  of  the  Press 


OUE  RELATIONS  WITH   FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.  17 

of  this  country  with  respect  to  the  President  of  France  and 
the  affairs  of  that  country.  I  remember  something  as  a  boy, 
and  I  have  read  more,  of  that  which  occurred  during  the  peace 
of  Amiens,  which  rendered  that  peace  of  so  short  a  duration,  and 
which  involved  these  two  great  nations  in  the  most  bloody 
hostilities  which  ever  mangled  the  face  of  Europe.  I  believe 
that  temperate  discussion,  temperate  negotiation  between  the 
two  countries,  might  have  averted  the  calamity  of  war  with 
England,  but  that  the  language  of  the  Press  at  that  time  was 
such  as  greatly  to  embitter  all  negotiation,  and  to  prevent  the 
continuance  of  that  peace.  Sir,  I  should  deeply  regret  if  the 
Press  of  this  country  at  the  present  time  were  to  take  a  similar 
course.' 

I  preferred,  instead  of  giving  my  own  representations  of 
what  the  noble  lord  said,  appealing  to  his  own  terse  and  per- 
spicuous language.  Sounder  sentiments,  more  clearly  ex- 
pressed, I  have  never  listened  to ;  and  I  beg  the  House  to 
understand  why  I  am  pressing  this  important  declaration  upon 
their  attention  at  this  moment ;  it  is,  because  this  is  the  speech 
of  the  noble  lord  when  he  was  at  the  head  of  a  Government,  and 
I  am  anxious  to  ascertain  to-night  whether  his  opinions  since  he 
has  taken  a  distinguished,  but  subordinate,  part  in  a  Govern- 
ment headed  by  another,  may  be  modified,  and  whether  we  may 
count  upon  a  unanimous  similarity  of  opinion  on  the  part  of 
his  colleagues. 

There  can  be  no  doubt,  upon  the  subject  of  our  relations 
with  France,  at  the  beginning  of  1852  there  was  a  perfect 
union  of  opinion  between  the  noble  lord  and  his  then  colleagues, 
because  in  the  other  House  the  country  was  favoured  on  the 
same  night  with  a  declaration  of  opinion  on  this  important 
subject,  made  by  another  person,  who  was  for  a  long  time  a 
member  of  this  House  and  of  Her  Majesty's  Government,  but 
who  no  longer  occupies  either  of  those  positions — a  noble  lord 
who,  whatever  may  be  the  difference  of  our  political  opinions, 
for  his  great  abilities,  his  great  capacity  for  public  labour,  and 
his  unimpeachable  integrity,  will  always  in  this  House  be 
mentioned  and  remembered  with  honour — I  mean  my  Lord 
Grey.  I  will  not  apologise  to  the  House  for  reading  an  extract 

VOL.  n.  C 


18  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

— it  is  the  last  I  shall  read — from  the  speech  of  Lord  Grey, 
because  I  am  sure  that  on  this  important  occasion,  when  it  is 
of  the  utmost  advantage  that  accurate  ideas  upon  this  subject 
should  prevail,  the  House  will  be  glad  to  learn  what  Lord  Grey, 
who  cannot  be  doubted  as  a  lover  of  public  liberty,  thought  of 
the  situation  of  France  a  year  ago,  for  it  may  be  a  very  efficient 
guide  to  us  as  to  his  opinions  of  the  state  of  France  at  this 
moment.  Lord  Grey  said — 

*  I  have  the  pleasure  of  being  able  to  express  my  unqualified 
concurrence  in,  I  believe,  every  word  which  the  noble  earl  who 
preceded  me  (the  Earl  of  Derby)  uttered.  I  entirely  agree 
with  him  as  to  its  being  the  duty  of  this  country,  as  a  country 
and  a  nation,  and  the  duty  of  each  individual  in  his  individual 
capacity,  to  abstain  from  any  interference  in  the  internal 
politics  of  that  great  and  powerful  nation  which  lies  so  near  to 
us.  I,  like  the  noble  lord,  observe  with  the  deepest  concern, 
and,  I  may  say,  with  the  indignation  which  the  noble  earl  has 
expressed,  the  tone  which  has  been  taken  by  a  large  portion  of 
the  newspaper  press  of  this  country.  I  think  that  the  denun- 
ciation of  the  person  at  the  head  of  the  Government  of  France, 
coupled  with  those  more  than  exaggerated — I  will  say,  untrue 
— representations  of  the  defenceless  condition  of  this  country, 
do  not  only  savour  of  imprudence,  but  of  something  worse  than 
imprudence ;  and  I  rejoice  that  the  noble  earl,  in  the  position 
which  he  occupies,  has  come  forward  to  assert,  in  the  emphatic 
manner  in  which  it  has  been  done,  his  utter  repudiation  of 
language  such  as  I  have  described.  And  I  do  trust  that  when, 
with  the  full  assurance  that  I  have  the  concurrence  of  my 
colleagues,  I  join  in  that  repudiation,  and  when  I  am  con- 
vinced every  one  of  your  lordships  will  echo  the  same  sentiment, 
I  do  believe  and  hope  that  the  mischief,  the  incalculable  evil, 
which  might  otherwise  have  resulted  from  language  thus  held 
by  a  great  part  of  the  newspaper  press  of  this  country,  will  to  a 
great  extent  be  neutralised,  and  that  it  will  be  understood  in 
foreign  countries  that,  however  those  newspapers  may  express 
the  opinions  or  the  feelings  of  those  who  write  in  them,  they  do 
not  express  the  opinions  or  the  feelings  of  any  great  and  power- 
ful party  in  this  country,  or  in  the  Houses  of  Parliament.' 


OUE  RELATIONS   WITH   FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.  19 

Now,  the  House  will  observe  that  Lord  Grey,  on  that 
occasion,  entirely  coincided  in  opinion  with  the  noble  lord  who 
was  then  at  the  head  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  in  this 
House.  I  think  it  will  be  observed  that  on  that  occasion  Lord 
Grey  answered  for  the  complete  agreement  of  his  colleagues  as 
to  the  evil,  not  of  public  characters,  but  of  anonymous  writers 
in  the  Press,  denouncing  the  ruler  of  France.  We  are  clear, 
therefore,  that  on  that  occasion  the  whole  of  the  colleagues 
of  the  noble  lord  in  his  Government  were  of  opinion  that, 
however  lawful  and  legitimate  the  criticisms  and  strictures 
of  the  Press  of  England  might  be,  these  denunciations  of  the 
Emperor  of  the  French  were  seriously  to  be  deprecated ;  and 
that  there  was  a  most  anxious  desire  and  determination  on  the 
part  of  the  noble  lord  and  his  Government  to  maintain  between 
this  country  and  France  the  most  friendly  relations.  Well, 
Sir,  that  was  the  state  of  affairs  between  the  two  countries  a 
year  ago.  Perhaps  I  may  be  permitted  to  say  that  during  the 
period  that  we  occupied  office  nothing  took  place  that  at  all 
impaired  that  cordial  understanding  between  the  two  countries 
which  I  may  say  we  inherited  from  our  predecessors. 

I  know  well,  Sir,  that  there  are  some  gentlemen — some  in 
this  House — who,  though  they  may  highly  esteem  a  friendly 
understanding  between  this  country  and  other  Powers,  are  apt 
to  speak  in  a  tone  of  great  disparagement  of  the  duties  and  the 
influence  of  diplomacy,  and  do  not  attribute  to  such  intimate 
connection  any  great,  or  permanent,  or  advantageous  influence 
on  the  general  course  of  human  events.  I  can  only  say,  Sir — 
I  feel  it  my  duty  to  say — that  during  the  period,  however  brief, 
in  which  we  occupied  a  responsible  position  as  regards  the 
administration  of  this  country,  we  found  a  cordial  understand- 
ing with  France  to  be  of  great  advantage  to  the  welfare  of  the 
world  ;  that  on  several  occasions  we  found  that  cordial  under- 
standing coming  to  our  aid  to  maintain  peace,  to  advance  civilisa- 
tion, and  to  promote  the  general  welfare  of  mankind.  I  do 
not  wish  to  take  refuge  in  vague  declamation ;  but  of  course 
upon  such  a  subject  I  am  bound  to  exercise  considerable  reserve. 
I  shall  not  now  pretend  to  give  to  the  House  a  catalogue  of  all 
the  instances  in  which  we  found  the  advantage  of  that  cordial 

c  2 


20  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

understanding  and  sincere  co-operation  on  the  part  of  France ; 
but  I  noted  down  last  night  some  instances  which  I  think  I 
am  justified  in  stating  to  the  House,  and  I  shall  place  them 
before  you  with  the  conviction  that,  when  unbiassed  and  un- 
prejudiced persons  consider  the  transactions  to  which  they  refer 
and  the  brief  interval  in  which  all  these  transactions — which 
are  only  a  part  of  the  transactions  which  did  occur — took  place, 
they  will  see  the  importance  of  the  considerations  that  I  am 
endeavouring  now  to  impress  upon  them. 

Let  me,  then,  mention  some  instances,  to  which  I  can  without 
impropriety  allude,  in  which  during  the  time  that  we  occupied 
office  we  found  the  advantage  of  having  a  cordial  understanding 
with  our  neighbours.  There  was  a  misunderstanding  between 
France  and  Switzerland  on  a  subject  which  disquieted  Europe,, 
and  which  many  supposed  at  one  moment  might  greatly  disturb 
the  peaceful  relations  of  the  world.  Our  advice  was  accepted 
in  that  case.  Our  good  offices  were  tendered  and  accepted, 
and  that  cloud  was  completely  dispelled.  Take  another  case — 
the  case  in  which  France  joined  with  us  in  the  negotiation  for 
the  opening  of  the  South  American  rivers.  That  was  an  opera- 
tion tending  to  increase  the  commercial  relations  of  the  world, 
and  to  advance  that  cause  of  progress  which  all  are  so  anxious 
to-  foster.  Then  there  was  the  case  of  Prussia  and  Neufchatel, 
when  a  violent  course  might  have  been  anticipated  on  the  part 
of  Prussia  against  Neufchatel ;  but  the  united  representations 
of  France  and  England,  made  in  the  most  friendly  spirit  to  the 
enlightened  monarch  who  governs  Prussia,  led  to  the  happy 
termination  of  that  affair.  A  fourth  instance  is  one  in  which 
France  joined  with  us  in  pressing  upon  the  United  States  the 
tripartite  renunciation  of  Cuba.  It  is  true  we  did  not  succeed 
in  the  immediate  object  of  that  interference";  but  the  moral 
effect  of  the  step  has  been  very  considerable,  and  at  least  indi- 
cated a  total  absence  on  the  part  of  France  of  that  anxiety 
to  keep  alive  subjects  and  opportunities  of  public  embroilment 
which  has  been  so  liberally  imputed  to  her.  We  succeeded 
also,  in  cordial  union  with  France,  in  preventing  the  war  which 
was  about  to  break  out  in  Hayti, 

But  I  will  take  another  case,  because  it  is  greatly  to  the 


OUE  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,  FEBRUARY   1853.          21 

honour  and  reputation  of  France — I  am  not  forgetting,  I  assure 
the  House,  a  proper  reserve  in  alluding  to  these  subjects.  I 
will  take  the  case  when  the  peaceful  relations  of  the  Levant 
were  threatened  last  year,  with  regard  to  the  tanzimat  in 
Egypt,  which  was  instituted  last  year  by  the  Sultan  of  Turkey. 
We  had  entirely  failed  diplomatically  in  inducing  the  Sultan  to 
modify  that  tanzimat.  Now,  although  it  has  always  been  the 
traditional  policy  of  France  to  encourage  the  independent  con- 
duct of  the  Pacha  of  Egypt,  and  not  to  be  too  apt  to  aid  in 
terminating  disputes  between  the  Prince  and  the  Porte,  yet 
when  affairs  assumed  an  aspect  which  seemed  to  threaten  a 
disturbance  in  the  Levant,  we  appealed  to  the  cordial  feeling  of 
France ;  she  joined  with  us,  and  by  our  united  influence,  the 
tanzimat  was  modified,  and  the  question  in  dispute  was  amic- 
ably arranged.  I  "might  state  another  instance.  I  might 
appeal  to  the  conduct  of  France  in  reference  to  the  revision  of 
the  Greek  Succession  Treaty,  which  secured  to  the  Greeks  the 
fulfilment  of  their  constitutional  law.  I  might  also  appeal  to 
the  conduct  of  France  and  to  her  cordial  co-operation  with 
England,  though  against  some  of  her  apparent  interests,  in 
preventing  the  disturbances  which  threatened  the  new  Regency 
of  Tunis. 

I  have  stated  eight  instances  in  which  the  cordial  union  of 
France  assisted  us  in  preventing  great  evils,  not  only  to  this 
country,  but  to  the  world  generally  ;  but  remember  that  during 
all  this  time,  while  all  this  was  taking  place,  much  to  the  credit 
of  the  noble  lord  who  then  presided  over  the  Foreign  Office 
(the  Earl  of  Malmesbury),  and  who  has  had  such  scanty  justice 
done  him,  but  to  whose  indefatigable  application  and  deter- 
mined energy  this  country  is  much  indebted — remember  that 
all  this  time,  while  the  French  Government  were  quietly, 
tranquilly,  and  diplomatically  working  with  our  Government  for 
these  great  objects  of  public  benefit  and  advantage — that 
French  Government  was  painted  as  corsairs  and  banditti,  watch- 
ing to  attack  our  coasts  without  the  slightest  provocation  and 
without  the  slightest  warning.  Well  then,  I  have  shown  that 
the  cordial  understanding  between  England  and  France  was 
the  great  principle,  so  far  as  our  foreign  policy  was  concerned, 


22  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

of  the  Grovernment  of  Lord  Derby ;  but  we  shall  always  re- 
member that  the  conduct  of  France,  while  we  were  in  office, 
was  conduct  which  entitled  that  nation  to  the  respect,  sym- 
pathy, and  good  feeling  of  the  people  of  this  country. 

Now,  Sir,  in  the  portion  of  the  speech  of  the  noble  lord 
opposite  which  I  just  read,  the  House  perhaps  noticed  one  of 
those  fine  observations  which  often  distinguish  the  remarks  of 
the  noble  lord.  The  noble  lord  pointed  out  to  the  House  the 
advantage  which  the  Emperor  of  the  French  has  over  his  illus- 
trious relative,  in  the  fact  that,  instead  of  being  ignorant  of  the 
laws  and  Constitution  of  this  country,  he,  from  long  residence 
here,  is  familiar  with  our  language,  our  habits,  and  our  customs. 
No  doubt,  Sir,  that  is  a  most  beneficial  circumstance  in  the 
position  of  the  present  Emperor  of  the  French :  he  has  lived 
long  in  England;  he  has  known  English  society  in  various 
classes ;  his  education  has  not  been  deficient  in  the  most  impor- 
tant element,  adversity,  and  it  is  not  likely  he  would  miscon- 
ceive, however  much  he  might  be  annoyed  at,  the  character  of 
the  English  Press.  No  doubt,  the  present  Emperor  of  the 
French  must  have  been  perfectly  aware  that  the  attacks  of  the 
Press  on  him  were  attacks  for  which  neither  the  Grovernment 
nor  the  nation,  as  a  nation,  is  responsible,  and  if  he  has — as  I 
should  suppose  it  is  pretty  well  known  that  he  has,  both  from 
official  notification  and  other  sources — expressed  indignation 
and  annoyance  at  these  attacks,  it  must  have  been  because  he 
was  of  opinion  that  when  they  became  known  to  his  subjects  at 
home,  the  latter  might  not  form  of  the  circumstances  so  accu- 
rate an  opinion  as  himself.  It  is,  indeed,  not  likely,  when 
those  attacks  are  made  on  his  country,  his  subjects,  and  him- 
self, that  those  who  read  them  abroad  could  comprehend — 
what  few  but  Englishmen  can  comprehend — the  exact  relations 
between  the  readers  and  .writers  of  public  journals  in  this 
country.  Therefore,  I  am  not  surprised  he  felt  indignation  and 
alarm  at  these  attacks,  though  I  agree  with  the  noble  lord  that 
a  person  who  had  resided  so  long  in  England  as  the  present 
Emperor  of  France  could  not  for  a  moment  misconceive  the 
authority  of  the  statements  in  question. 

Bearing  that  in  mind,  I  ask  the  House  to  permit  me  to 


OUE   EELATIONS    WITH   FEANCE,   FEBEUAEY   1853.          23 

pursue  my  inquiry,  and  ask  what  is  the  feeling  of  the  present 
Government,  of  which  the  noble  lord  the  member  for  the  City 
of  London  is  a  member,  on  the  subject  of  the  relations  between 
France  and  England  ?  We  know  well  what  were  the  feelings 
of  the  Government  of  the  noble  lord  on  this  subject  when  the 
noble  lord  was  at  the  head  of  the  administration,  and  we  also 
know  well,  both  from  the  statement  I  have  made  and  from  the 
reference  to  past  transactions  which  I  have  offered  to  the 
House,  what  were  the  feelings  of  Lord  Derby  and  his  colleagues 
on  this  important  matter.  '•  i  v 

But  I  now  wish  to  ascertain — for  after  all,  that  is  the  most  im- 
portant question — what  upon  this  subject  are  the  views,  opinions, 
and  sentiments  of  the  Government  of  my  Lord  Aberdeen  ?  Sir, 
soon  after  the  formation  of  that  Government,  a  declaration  of 
opinion  on  this  subject  was  made  by  one  of  its  most  eminent 
members,  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty.1  The  First  Lord  of 
the  Admiralty,  a  most  experienced  statesman,  found  himself,  by 
his  acceptance  of  office,  and  by  a  return  to  those  councils  he  had 
previously  adorned,  in  one  of  the  most  responsible  positions  in 
which  an  English  minister  at  the  formation  of  a  Government  can 
find  himself — upon  the  hustings,  before  his  constituents,  in  the 
face  of  the  whole  country,  with  the  people  watching  for  the  ex- 
pression of  his  opinions,  in  order  that  they  might  form  some  idea 
of  the  policy  of  the  new  Government,  and,  I  may  say,  with  "the 
whole  of  Europe,  not  less  anxious  as  to  the  result,  listening  to 
him.  What,  then,  was  the  statement  of  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  with  respect  to  the  state  of  affairs  in  France  ?  The 
right  honourable  gentleman  described  the  ruler  of  France,  and 
he  also  described  those  whom  he  ruled,  in  one  of  those  pithy 
sentences  which  no  one  prepares  with  more  due  elaboration. 
In  the  same  sentence  the  right  honourable  gentleman  contrived 
to  give  the  character  not  only  of  the  Emperor  of  the  French, 
but  of  the  French  themselves.  He  described  the  Emperor  of 
the  French  as  a  despot  who  had  trampled  on  the  rights  and 
liberties  of  forty  millions  of  men.  (Loud  cheers.)  Nothing 
demonstrates  the  evil  of  making  such  declarations  more  than 
hearing  them  cheered  in  the  manner  the  House  has  just  wit- 

1  Sir  J.  Graham. 


24      SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

nessed.  Well,  according  to  the  right  honourable  gentleman, 
one  of  the  most  distinguished  members  of  the  cabinet  of  Lord 
Aberdeen — which  cabinet,  we  hoped,  was  to  maintain  that  cordial 
understanding  with  France  which  was  the  cardinal  point  of  the 
policy  of  the  Government  of  the  noble  lord  opposite  and  of  the 
Government  of  Lord  Derby — the  present  ruler  of  France  is  a 
despot  who  has  trampled  on  the  rights  and  liberties  of  forty 
millions  of  human  beings.  Therefore,  the  French  people, 
according  to  the  right  honourable  gentleman,  are  a  nation  of 
slaves  ;  and  a  despot  and  slaves  are  those  with  whom  we  are  to 
have  a  cordial  understanding,  in  order  to  prevent  those  dangers 
and  to  secure  those  blessings  which,  by  a  reference  to  those 
proceedings  which  I  have  already  detailed,  are  the  consequences 
of  having  a  cordial  understanding  with  France. 

Well,  if  I  had  to  form  an  opinion  of  the  policy  of  the  cabinet 
from  the  first  declaration  made  by  so  eminent  a  member  of  it 
as  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  I  should  certainly  be  induced 
to  suppose  that  some  great  change  was  about  to  occur.  How 
are  we  to  account  for  such  a  declaration?  I  will  not  be 
so  impertinent  as  to  suppose  it  was  an  indiscretion.  An  indis- 
cretion from  '  All  the  Talents '  ? — impossible  !  Can  it,  then,  be 
design  ?  I  will  not  misrepresent  the  right  honourable  gentle- 
man ;  I  will  not  commit  the  mistake  I  made  the  other  day. 
I  understand  from  what  the  noble  lord  opposite  then  stated  that 
you  may  call  the  French  slaves  if  you  are  speaking  illustratively 
of  politics  in  general ;  but  you  must  not  call  the  Emperor  of 
the  French  a  tyrant,  or  his  subjects  slaves,  if  you  are  formally 
treating  of  the  foreign  relations  of  the  country.  Now,  I  frankly 
admit  that  the  right  honourable  gentleman  was  not  treating  of 
the  foreign  relations  of  the  country ;  he  was  only  offering  argu- 
ments against  extended  suffrage  and  vote  by  ballot — arguments, 
by  the  way,  which  I  trust  have  had  a  due  influence  on  the  mind 
of  the  President  of  the  Board  of  Works  (Sir  William  Molesworth). 
The  right  honourable  gentleman  made  some  significant  obser- 
vations on  the  subject.  I  do  not  allude  to  his  promise  of  ob- 
taining a  large  measure  of  Parliamentary  Reform,  because  on 
the  hustings  there  must  be  allowed  some  licence  on  such  sub- 
jects, though  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  whatever  liberties  you 


OUE   EELATIONS  WITH  FKAKCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.          25 

may  take  with  your  constituents,  a  councillor  of  Her  Majesty 
ought  at  least  to  be  careful  when  he  speaks  of  a  foreign  poten- 
tate. 

I  must  therefore  assume,  until  in  the  pursuit  of  my  investi- 
gation I  can  arrive  at  a  different  conclusion — I  must  assume 
for  the  moment  that  this  was  a  declaration  made  without 
design.  The  present  Government  tell  us  that  they  have  no 
principles — at  least,  not  at  present.  Some  people  are  un- 
charitable enough  to  suppose  that  they  have  not  got  a  party ; 
but,  in  Heaven's  name,  why  are  they  ministers  if  they  have  not 
got  discretion  ?  That  is  the  great  quality  on  which  I  had  thought 
this  cabinet  was  established.  Vast  experience,  administrative 
adroitness — safe  men,  who  never  would  blunder — men  who 
might  not  only  take  the  Government  without  a  principle  and 
without  a  party,  but  to  whom  the  country  ought  to  be  grateful 
for  taking  it  under  such  circumstances  ;  yet,  at  the  very  first 
outset,  we  find  one  of  the  most  experienced  of  these  eminent 
statesmen  acting  in  the  teeth  of  the  declarations  of  the  noble 
lord  opposite,  and  of  Lord  Grey,  made  in  1852  ;  and  holding  up 
to  public  scorn  and  indignation  the  ruler  and  the  people  a 
good  and  cordial  understanding  with  whom  is  one  of  the  cardinal 
points  of  all  sound  statesmanship. 

Well,  Sir,  another  minister  has  also  given  his  opinion  on  the 
politics  of  France.  Parliament  had  not  resumed  its  sittings 
before  two  of  these  experienced  men  had  expressed  publicly 
sentiments  which  startled  the  country,  which  alarmed  Europe, 
and  which  were  apologised  for,  in  one  instance,  by  the  noble 
lord  opposite.  I  am  not  going  now  to  say  a  single  word  on  the 
observations  of  the  President  of  the  Board  of  Control  (Sir 
Charles  Wood)  as  regards  their  offensive  character  to  the 
Emperor  of  the  French.  The  right  honourable  gentleman  has 
explained  in  a  letter  that  he  may  have  said  unpremeditatedly 
that  the  Emperor  of  the  French  '  gagged  the  Press  of  France, 
that  he  gagged  the  Press  of  Brussels,  and  that  he  hates  our 
Press  because  it  speaks  the  truth,  and  he  cannot  gag  it,'  but 
still  he  did  not  mean  to  say  anything  at  all  offensive  to  the 
Emperor.  I  know  the  right  honourable  gentleman  is  in  the 
habit  of  saying  very  offensive  things  without  meaning  it.  I 


26       SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

know  he  has  outraged  the  feelings  of  many  individuals  without 
the  slightest  intention  of  doing  so  ;  and  therefore,  in  reference 
to  so  peculiar  an  organisation,  I  can  only  say  that  that  is  a  very 
awkward  accomplishment.  But  this  speech  at  Halifax,  in  which 
the  -discreet  President  of  the  Board  of  Control  followed  the  ex- 
perienced First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  with  a  wonderful  harmony 
of  conduct  and  sympathy  of  sentiment,  contained  far  more  im- 
portant allegations  than  the  personal  words  to  which  the  letter 
of  the  right  honourable  the  President  of  the  Board  of  Control 
referred  the  other  day. 

What  does  the  right  honourable  gentleman  mean  by  the 
Press  of  Belgium  being  gagged  ?  I  do  not  know  whether  right 
honourable  gentlemen  opposite  are  aware  of  the  position  oJ 
Belgium  ;  whether  they  know  that  it  is  an  independent  country, 
governed  by  one  whom  I  may  fairly  describe  as  the  wisest  and 
most  accomplished  of  living  princes.  What  a  description  is 
given  of  the  position  of  the  King  of  the  Belgians,  to  say  nothing 
of  the  Belgian  people,  when  a  minister  of  Queen  Victoria 
publicly  announces  to  Europe  that  the  King  of  the  Belgians 
is  in  a  state  more  humiliating  than  the  slaves  who,  according 
to  the  statement  of  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  are  the 
subjects  of  the  Emperor  of  the  French,  and  that  he  permits  the 
Press  of  his  country  to  be  gagged  by  a  foreign  Power  ?  Now, 
what  are  the  facts  ?  Is  the  Press  of  Belgium  gagged  ?  Is  the 
prince  in  whom  England  must  always  take  an  interest  irrespec- 
tive of  his  great  talents  and  accomplishments — is  he  in  the 
humiliating  position  of  having  his  Press  gagged  ?  Let  us  look 
into  the  facts  of  this  important  case,  and  let  us  see  whether 
they  have  been  correctly  stated  by  the  President  of  the  Board 
of  Control,  who,  from  his  position,  ought  to  be  acquainted  with 
some  of  them.  Belgium  is  a  country  the  independence  and 
neutrality  of  which  are  guaranteed  by  treaties  to  which  England 
is  a  party,  and  that  independence  and  neutrality  are  not  to  be 
impeached  or  violated  without  England  interfering  with  other 
Powers  to  vindicate  the  rights  and  establish  the  authority  of 
that  country.  There  is  no  slight  question  at  stake  in  this 
matter;  because,  if  the  Press  of  Belgium  be  gagged  by  a 
foreign  Power,  where  is  the  independence  of  that  country? 


OUK   RELATIONS   WITH  FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.          27 

And  where  and  at  what  hour  may  not  England  be  called  on,  in 
conformity  with  treaties  which  cannot  be  evaded,  to  emancipate 
Belgium  from  this  thraldom.  I  recommend  honourable  gentle- 
men to  take  that  point  into  consideration,  in  consequence  of 
the  statement  made  on  the  high  authority  of  a  gentleman  fresh 
from  cabinet  councils,  who  must  therefore  be  supposed  to  have 
a  complete  and  accurate  idea  of  the  state  of  Europe. 

There  was  this  difference  between  the  Press  of  England  and 
that  of  Belgium  in  reference  to  French  affairs,  that  the  news- 
papers published  in  Belgium  against  the  Emperor  of  the  French 
were  printed  in  the  language  of  his  countrymen,  and  that  they 
openly  incited  to  and  recommended  the  assassination  of  the 
ruler  of  France.  Of  course,  under  these  circumstances,  it  is 
not  remarkable  that  the  ruler  of  France  complained  of  such 
flagrant  outrages.  It  is  impossible  to  say,  if  no  redress  had 
been  given  or  offered,  what  might  not  have  been  the  conse- 
quences. It  is  very  possible  that  Belgium  might  have  become 
involved  in  invasion  because  no  protection  against  such  outrages 
towards  a  neighbouring  sovereign  could  be  given.  It  is  also 
very  possible  that  the  Great  Powers  might  not  have  conceived 
it  to  be  their  duty,  under  the  circumstances,  to  assist  in  the 
rescue  of  that  country.  But  see  the  embroilment  of  Europe 
that  might  then  have  arisen.  Perhaps  England  alone  would 
have  been  left  as  the  champion  of  Belgium,  because  it  is  not 
likely  that  we  should  have  deserted  our  neighbours,  whose  in- 
dependence we  are  bound  to  maintain. 

What,  then,  did  the  King  of  the  Belgians  do  ?  He  acted 
like  a  wise  and  able  sovereign.  He  did  not  submit  to  his  Press 
being  gagged ;  he  made  no  humiliating  concessions ;  but  he 
felt  that  the  appeal  made  to  him  was  a  just  appeal,  that  the 
outrage  was  an  unjustifiable  outrage ;  and  he  went  to  his  own 
free  Parliament,  and  said  that  it  was  an  intolerable  grievance 
that  a  neighbouring  prince  should  be  held  up  to  assassination 
by  newspapers  in  Belgium,  and  in  the  language  read  by  his  own 
subjects ;  and  he  appealed  to  the  Parliament  to  do  what  was 
proper.  And  what  was  the  course  of  the  free  Parliament  of 
Belgium?  I  believe,  without  a  dissentient  voice,  certainly 
without  any  important  opposition,  they  passed  a  law  declaring 


28  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

that  papers  in  the  French  language,  or  in  any  language,  should 
not  be  published  in  Belgium  that  recommended  the  assassina- 
tion of  neighbouring  Princes  ;  and  thus  in  the  most  efficient  and 
the  most  constitutional  manner,  that  consummate  sovereign 
terminated  a  difficulty  which  threatened  his  country,  in  a  way 
most  honourable  to  all  parties.  And  yet  it  was  not  a  newspaper, 
it  was  not  one  of  those  vile  prints  that  counsel  assassination, 
that  made  the  statement  that  the  Press  of  Belgium  is  gagged, 
but  a  councillor  of  Queen  Victoria,  an  experienced  statesman, 
a  statesman  selected  to  sit  in  the  councils  of  the  Government 
(where  there  is  no  regard  to  the  principles  of  the  gentlemen 
who  compose  it,  as  that  is  a  question  of  second-rate  import- 
ance)— selected  to  take  office  on  account  of  his  admirable  dis- 
cretion, his  unfailing  judgment,  and  the  certainty  that  under 
no  circumstances  he  would  do  or  say  anything  that  could  commit 
his  colleagues. 

I  observe  that  on  the  day  when  the  right  honourable  gentle- 
man made  his  speech  at  Halifax,  the  cabinet  met  and  sat 
four  hours.  Now,  when  a  cabinet  sits  four  hours,  the  subjects 
considered  must  be  weighty.  The  right  honourable  gentleman 
the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  smiles,  as  if  the  cabinet  was 
sitting  on  the  income-tax.  Oh,  no !  I  am  sure  the  cabinet 
could  not  have  been  sitting  on  the  income-tax.  It  is  fully 
avowed  and  frankly  acknowledged  that  all  questions  of  domestic 
interest  are  to  be  suspended — adjourned  to  the  Greek  Kalends, 
for  aught  we  know — and  therefore  it  is  clear  it  could  not  have 
been  about  any  question  of  domestic  policy  the  Queen's  servants 
met  that  day  and  sat  so  long.  It  is  not,  therefore,  too  rash  a 
supposition  to  imagine  that  something  connected  with  the 
foreign  relations  of  the  country  may  have  occupied  their 
thoughts.  It  is  not  difficult  even — this,  of  course,  is  only  a 
conjecture — to  conceive  the  subject  which  attracted  their 
attention  ;  for  the  newspapers  were  teeming  with  accounts  of 
the  arrival  of  Grovernment  messengers  with  despatches  from 
the  Turkish  empire,  a  portion  of  which  was  at  the  time  dis- 
turbed. That  problem  which  has  perplexed  the  minds  and 
occupied  the  anxious  thoughts  of  statesmen  for  more  than  half 
a  century — the  state  of  the  Turkish  empire — was  probably  the 


OUK  RELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,  FEBKUAEY   1853.  29 

subject  under  the  consideration  of  Her  Majesty's  ministers. 
Everyone  knows  how  much  is  at  stake  in  the  solution  of  that 
>  problem.  It  is  a  question,  not  only  of  the  peace  of  Europe, 
but  of  the  civilisation  of  the  world.  And  how  have  English 
statesmen  hitherto  dealt  with  it  ?  In  what  manner  have  they 
attempted  to  grapple  with  the  difficulties  of  this  ever-reverting 
subject  of  perplexity  and  peril?  Only  in  one  way.  They 
have  recognised  but  one  means  by  which  a  temperate,  wise, 
and  successful  issue  could  be  insured.  And  what  is  that  ?  A 
cordial  understanding  with  France.  The  traditionary  policy  of 
that  great  empire  has  led  it  always  to  feel  that  it  must  not 
sacrifice  a  high  principle  of  State  for  any  temporary  success,  or 
any  petty  and  partial  acquisition  which  it  might  be  able  to 
secure.  So  long  as  France  and  England  thoroughly  understand 
each  other  on  this  great  question,  the  peace  of  the  world  and 
the  interests  of  civilisation  and  humanity  are  not  in  peril. 

I  will  assume,  then,  the  Turkish  question  to  have  been  the 
subject  of  the  cabinet  council  of  four  hours,  and  I  cannot  well 
conceive  any  subject  more  worthy  of  such  prolonged  delibera- 
tion. I  can  conceive  Her  Majesty's  ministers  quitting  the 
council  chamber  deep  in  thought  and  fully  impressed  with  the 
almost  awful  responsibility  of  their  decision  upon  that  policy  ; 
and  I  can  also  conceive  the  feelings  of  these  same  ministers 
when  next  morning  they  read  the  speech  at  Halifax,  and  found 
that  their  absent  colleague  had  designated  in  terms  of  ignominy 
the  sovereign  Power  with  whom  they  were  to  act  as  an  ally, 
and  treated — as  I  will  presently  show — the  nation  he  rules 
over  as  the  lowest,  in  point  of  civilisation,  that  can  well  be 
conceived. 

As  regards  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  (Sir  James 
Graham),  he  has  had  a  great  deal  of  experience,  to  be  sure, 
but  then  he  has  been  a  long  time  in  Opposition,  and  something 
might  be  said  for  him  in  the  way  of  excuse  on  that  account,  if, 
indeed,  so  great  a  personage  can  condescend  to  an  excuse.  The 
right  honourable  baronet  might  say,  or  somebody  might  say 
for  him,  '  Well,  I  have  been  a  good  many  years  without  at- 
tending cabinet  councils.  This  occurred  before  any  new 
cabinet  councils  were  summoned.  I  was  unexpectedly  called 


30  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

to  power — without  any  previous  arrangements  or  understanding, 
of  course.  I  had  not  yet  attended  the  councils  of  Her 
Majesty's  servants  when  I  went  to  the  hustings.  It  is  a  strange 
thing  that  I  should  have  made  such  a  business  of  it ;  but  still 
these  things  will  happen.' 

But  what  was  the  position  of  the  President  of  the  Board 
of  Control  ?  He  was  hardly  out  of  office  but  he  was  in  again. 
He  had  been  in  office  five  or  six  years,  and  a  hardish  time 
he  had  of  it,  no  doubt ;  but  nevertheless  he  agreed  again  to 
lend  his  gravity  to  the  councils  of  his  Eoyal  Mistress.  He  was 
so  properly  anxious  that  the  people  of  this  country  should  have 
none  but  discreet  men  to  administer  their  affairs  that,  without 
making  any  stipulations  as  to  the  policy  or  principles  of  the 
Government,  he  became  a  minister  again,  and  attended  twenty 
cabinet  councils  before  he  went  down  to  make  the  Halifax 
demonstration ;  and  yet,  with  this  renovated  sense  of  responsi- 
bility— knowing  how  much  depended  upon  everything  said  by 
a  minister  under  these  circumstances — the  right  honourable 
gentleman,  fresh  from  cabinet  councils,  knowing  all  the  ques- 
tions at  issue,  goes  to  his  constituents,  describes  the  ruler  of 
the  French  in  language  I  have  more  than  once  referred  to,  and 
will  not  now  repeat,  and  then  proceeds,  in  a  passage  which  I 
have  not  yet  read  to  the  House,  to  give  the  people  of  Halifax 
some  idea  of  the  conduct  of  the  Emperor's  subjects.  The  right 
honourable  gentleman  feels  it  necessary  to  vindicate  the  in- 
creased expenditure  of  the  country  to  his  constituents,  and  he 
shows  them,  as  it  was  not  difficult  to  do,  that  this  expenditure 
had  been  incurred  solely  for  self-defence.  But  then  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  goes  on  to  illustrate  the  importance  of 
these  defensive  measures ;  *  For,'  says  he,  *  I  do  not  think 
there  will  be  a  regular  war  with  the  French,  but  I  tell  you 
what  you  will  have  :  you  will  have  bodies  of  5,000  men  sud- 
denly thrown  upon  your  coast,  and  how  would  you  like  that  ? 
How  would  your  wives  and  daughters  be  treated  ?  '  This  is  a 
description  of  the  bravest,  the  most  polished,  and  most  in- 
genious nation  of  Christendom  by  one  of  Her  Majesty's 
ministers. 

Now,  I  shall  not  express  my  own  opinion  of  this  definition. 


OUE  EELATIONS  WITH  FEANCE,   FEBEUAEY   1853.          31 

or  description  of  the  French  nation  by  the  President  of  the 
Board  of  Control ;  but  I  will  quote  the  words  of  a  great  Whig 
minister,  whose  memory  must  be  respected  by  every  gentleman 
on  the  opposite  bench — I  was  going  to  say  by  every  member 
of  the  Government,  but  that,  perhaps,  would  be  going  too  far. 
In  the  debate  which  took  place  in  the  House  of  Lords  on  Mr. 
Pitt's  commercial  treaty  with  France  in  1787,  Lord  Stormont, 
I  think  it  was,  opposing  the  treaty,  put  forward  as  one  of  his 
arguments  that  it  would  be  dangerous  for  British  merchants 
to  invest  so  much  money  in  France,  because  in  the  case  of  a 
war  the  French  Grovernment  would  seize  upon  all  their  capital ; 
•whereupon  Lord  Shelburne — who  now  bore  the  honoured  name 
of  Lansdowne — ridiculed  such  sentiments,  saying,  '  One  would 
suppose  in  listening  to  the  noble  lord,  that  he  imagines  the 
French  nation  to  be  corsairs  and  banditti  of  Tunis  and 
Morocco.'  Well,  that  is  what  I  say  to  the  President  of  the 
Board  of  Control.  The  Halifax  hypothesis  is,  that  without 
declaring  war,  and  in  utter  violation  of  all  the  rules  which 
govern  civilised  nations,  the  French  will  land  bands  of  men  on  - 
our  coast,  to  commit  the  desecrating  enormities  hinted  at ;  and 
I  say  that  the  man  who  conceives  this  to  be  possible  must 
imagine  the  bravest,  the  most  ingenious,  and  the  most  polished 
people  in  the  world  to  be  no  better  than  corsairs  of  Tunis  and 
Morocco ;  and  yet,  after  having  said  all  these  things,  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  writes  a  letter  to  the  leader  of  the 
House  of  Commons1 — mind,  I  am  not  touching  on  his  apology 
to  the  ruler  of  France  ;  I  have  omitted  all  that  from  considera- 
tion to-night :  I  do  not  think  much  of  the  apology ;  I  can't 
say  I  think  it  a  handsome  one — but  let  that  pass ;  I  am  looking 
to  the  principles  involved,  and  the  great  interests  at  stake  in 
the  speeches  and  statements  of  a  cabinet  minister.  In  this 
letter  the  right  honourable  gentleman  says,  quite  in  his  own 
vein,  '  I  cannot  conceive  that  an  English  minister  is  to  be  pre- 
cluded from  adverting  to  what  he  conceives  to  be  the  state  of 
things  on  the  Continent.'  Well,  I  will  match  that  sentence 
for  style  against  any  sentence  that  was  ever  written;  it  is, 
indeed,  worthy  of  the  position  which  the  right  honourable 
1  Lord  John  Russell. 


32  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACON SFIELD. 

gentleman  occupied.  He  is  apologising  to  an  Emperor  for  an 
insult  to  a  nation,  and  then  he  tells  us  that  he  is  not  conscious 
that  an  English  minister  should  be  precluded  from  adverting 
to  what  he  conceives  to  be  the  state  of  things  on  the  Continent. 

My  opinion  is,  that  an  English  minister  should  not  open  his 
mouth  on  any  subject,  and  certainly  not  upon  what  the 
President  of  the  Board  of  Control  calls  '  the  state  of  things  on 
the  Continent,'  without  a  grave  sense  of  responsibility.  And, 
moreover,  I  think  that  if,  under  the  circumstances,  the  Presi- 
dent of  the  Board  of  Control  thought  it  his  duty  to  advert  to 
what  he  supposed  to  be  the  state  of  things  on  the  Continent,  he 
ought,  as  a  minister,  to  have  been  courteous  in  expression  and 
conciliatory  in  language.  But  I  cannot  admit  the  principle 
that  an  English  minister  should  take  part  in  the  most  secret 
deliberations  of  the  greatest  kingdom  of  the  world,  and  then 
leave  the  cabinet  to  babble  on  a  hustings  all  that  he  has  heard. 
What  cabinet  ministers  understand  to  be  the  state  of  things 
on  the  Continent  is  a  great  secret  of  State.  We  have  no  right 
to  ask  them  to  divulge  it  in  this  House,  much  less  in  the  Odd 
Fellows'  Hall  at  Halifax. 

Well,  I  have  advanced  so  far  in  this  argument  that  we  have 
arrived,  so  far  as  the  sentiments  of  Her  Majesty's  ministers  on 
the  all-important  question  of  our  relations  with  France  are  con- 
cerned, at  a  very  unsatisfactory  point.    Though  there  might  be 
no  doubt  as  to  the  policy  of  the  noble  lord  !  opposite  when  he 
was  chief  minister — though  there  could  be  no  doubt  of  the  policy 
of  Lord  Derby  when  he  was  chief  minister — as  regards  our  re- 
lations with  that  country,  hitherto,  if  we  are  to  be  guided  by  wha 
has  transpired  in  the  speeches  of  two  members  of  the  cabinet 
there  is  very  grave  doubt  as  to  what  the  policy  of  the  presen 
cabinet  of  the  Earl  of  Aberdeen  is  to  be.     I  think  that  it  is 
not  only  a  legitimate  subject  of  investigation  and  inquiry,  bu 
that  it  is  our  absolute  duty  to  obtain  from  the  present  cabinet 
if  possible,  something  more  satisfactory  upon  this  all-importam 
subject.     For  be  it  observed  that  the  Emperor  of  the  French 
with  all  his  English  experience,  cannot  for  a  moment  look  upon 
the  declarations  I  have  quoted  as  only  the  declarations  of  private 
1  Lord  J,  Russell. 


OUR   RELATIONS  WITH   FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.          33 

individuals.  They  are  not  anonymous  or  unauthorised  declara- 
tions ;  and  in  his  mind  they  may  rightly  be  esteemed  as  national 
declarations,  being  expressions  of  opinion  by  members  of  Her 
Majesty's  Government.  They  must  be  viewed,  therefore,  in  a 
very  different  light  to  opinions  expressed,  and  legitimately  ex- 
pressed, by  the  public  journals  of  the  country. 

But  there  are  additional  and  peculiar  reasons  why  we  should 
make  this  inquiry  at  the  present  time.  When  the  present 
Government  took  office,  the  head  of  the  Government  offered 
what  is  called  a  programme  of  his  policy  in  another  place — a 
programme  so  vigorous  and  lucid  in  the  opinion  of  the  noble 
lord  opposite,  that  he  considered  it  quite  exhausted  the  subject, 
that  it  left  no  topic  untouched  and  no  doubt  upon  any  topic  in 
the  mind  of  any  individual ;  and '  therefore  the  noble  lord  said 
that  he  would  not  presume  to  add  anything.  Now,  there  was 
a  declaration  in  that  programme  upon  the  foreign  policy  of  the 
Government.  I  beg  to  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  that 
very  important  declaration.  Remember  who  made  it ;  remember 
it  was  made,  not  only  by  the  Prime  Minister  of  England,  but 
by  one  who  had  filled  the  highest  offices  of  State,  and  especially 
had  been  more  than  once  and  for  a  considerable  period 
Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs.  Therefore,  although  a 
minister  is  bound  to  know  something  of  everything,  the  House 
will  observe  that  upon  this  topic  the  chief  minister  was  bound 
to  know  everything.  It  is  a  subject  of  which  he  is  pre- 
eminently master.  Let  us  then  recall  to  our  recollection  the 
statement  in  the  satisfactory  programme  made  by  the  Earl  of 
Aberdeen.  He  said  it  was  unnecessary  to  dilate  upon  the  topic, 
because  the  system  and  the  principles  on  which  the  foreign 
policy  of  this  country  had  been  conducted  during  the  last  thirty 
years  had  always  been  the  same. 

Sir,  I  confess  I  listened  to  that  statement  with  surprise.  I 
could  not  but  recall  to  mind  the  tempestuous  debates  which 
only  three  years  ago  resounded  in  this  House  on  the  subject  of 
our  foreign  policy.1  I  could  not  forget  that  the  system  and 

•     *  The  reference  is  to  the  Debates  on  the  affairs  of  Greece  which  took  place 
in  both  "Houses  in  the  month  of  June  1850.     In  the  Upper  House  the  vote 
of  censure,  proposed  by  Lord  Stanley,  was  carried  by  a  majority  of  37  ;  in  the 
TOL.   II.  D 


34  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

principles  of  the  foreign  policy  then  pursued,  and  which  has 
been  pursued  for  years  by  the  Government  presided  over  by 
the  noble  lord  the  member  for  London,  had  been  described  as 
unbecoming  to  the  dignity  of  England  and  perilous  to  the 
peace  of  Europe.  I  could  not  but  remember  that  this  was  the 
language  used  by  one  of  his  colleagues  in  this  coalition 
ministry.  I  could  not  but  recollect  that  Lord  Aberdeen  him- 
self with  reference  to  the  then  foreign  policy  and  the  principles 
on  which  it  was  conducted  had  used  an  epithet  rarely  admitted 
into  Parliamentary  debate,  for  he  stigmatised  them  as  '  abomin- 
able.' I  could  not  but  recollect  also  that  the  great  indictment 
of  the  foreign  policy  of  the  then  Government  was  opened  in 
this  House  with  elaborate  care  and  vehement  invective  by  the 
honourable  baronet  now  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  (Sir  J. 
Graham).  I  therefore  was  somewhat  surprised  when  I  found 
that  for  thirty  years  there  had  been  no  difference  in  the 
principles  on  which  the  foreign  policy  of  this  country  had  been 
conducted.  I  could  not  but  recollect,  too,  that  the  noble  lord 
the  member  for  London  denounced  the  principal  instigator  l  of 
those  debates  as  one  who  did  not  take  the  foremost  part  in 
them  which  he  ought  to  have  done,  and  as  being  in  league  with 
foreign  conspirators  for  the  most  disgraceful  object  which  it 
was  possible  for  a  British  statesman,  if  it  could  be  proved,  to 
pursue.  I  could  not  but  remember  the  glowing  and  fervid 
eloquence  with  which  the  noble  lord  vindicated  his  noble  friend 
the  then  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  and  still  a  Secretary 
of  State,  when,  commending  him  as  a  truly  British  minister,  he 
said,  *  He  is  not  the  minister  of  Austria ;  he  is  not  the  minister 
of  Kussia ;  he  is  not  the  minister  of  France,  but  the  minister 
of  England.' 

Who,  then,  was  the  minister  of  Kussia,  Austria,  and  France  ? 
Who  sat  for  that  portrait  ?  It  is  the  portrait  of  the  present 
Prime  Minister  of  England  2  drawn  by  his  leader  of  the  House 

Lower  a  vote  of  confidence,  proposed  by  Mr.  Roebuck,  was  carried  by  a  majority 
of  46.  Lord  Aberdeen  in  the  one  House  and  Sir  J.  Graham  and  Mr.  Gladstone 
in  the  other  particularly  distinguished  themselves  against  the  Government. 

1  It  is  not  quite  clear  to  whom  these  words  are  applied.     From  Lord  J, 
Russell's  remarks  on  June  20  it  would  appear  to  be  Mr.  Disraeli  himself. 

2  Lord  Aberdeen. 


CUE   RELATIONS   WITH  FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.          35 

f  Commons,  and  he  has  paid  the  artist  for  his  performance  by 
legrading  him  from  the  post  of  which  he  was  worthy.     I  hold 
n  my   hand  an  invitation   to   a   meeting  of  the    merchants, 
Dankers,  and  traders  of  the  city  of  London  '  who  feel  called  on 
it  this  time  publicly  to  express  their  deep  concern  at  witnessing 
:he  endeavours  continually  made  to  create  and  perpetuate  feel- 
ngs  of  distrust,  ill-will  and  hostility  between  the  inhabitants 
)f  the  two  great  nations  of  France  and  England.'     I  therefore 
•ecommend  some  of  the  honourable  members  who  attempt  to 
listurb  my  observations  to  go  to  the  London  Tavern  and  tell 
the  merchants,  bankers  and  traders  of  England  that  they  are 
•exhibiting  a  factious  feeling  towards  the  Government  because 
they  feel  alarmed  and  disquieted  as  to  their  commercial  trans- 
actions.    I  will  not  be  deterred  from  putting  the  question  I  am 
•about  to  ask.    I  say  we  have  a  right  to  ask  ministers  upon  what 
principle  our  foreign  policy  is  to  be  conducted.    Is  their  system 
to  be  one  of  *  liberal  energy  '  or  of  '  antiquated  imbecility  '  ? 
When  the  noble  viscount  opposite  (Lord  Palmerston),  who  was 
then  Foreign  Secretary,  was  vindicating  himself  from  attacks,1 
Tie  took  credit  for  the  liberal  energy  of  his  policy,  and  described 
the  principles  recommended  by  his  present  chief  as  a  system 
of  '  antiquated  imbecility.'     Now,  I  think  it  of  the  utmost  im- 
portance that  we  should  clearly  know  whether  the  foreign  policy 
•of  this  country  is  to  be  carried  on  on  principles  of  liberal  energy 
or  of  antiquated  imbecility.     But,   Sir,  I  have  shown  to  the 
House  that  already  two  cabinet   ministers   have   acted   in   a 
manner   quite  opposed  to  the  declaration  of  1852.      I  have 
shown  that  the  programme  of  the  First  Minister  does  not  in 
any  way  remove  the  difficulties  with  which  we  are  surrounded, 
and  that  it  is  utterly  inconsistent  with   the  facts  of  the  case 
according  to  a  large  number  of  the  members  of  the  present 
cabinet. 

If  the  principles  of  our  foreign  policy  have  never  changed, 
how  can  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer 2  and  the  First  Lord  of 
the  Admiralty  vindicate  the  course  which  they  formerly  took, 
the  resolutions  which  they  then  supported,  and  the  sentiments 

1  I.e.  in  the  Greek  Debate.     Vide  s-ttpra. 

2  Mr.  Gladstone. 

D  2 


36  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

they  then  expressed  ?  I  think  they  will  find  it  a  difficult  task. 
I  have  no  doubt  the  noble  lord  is  perfectly  convinced  of  the 
justice  and  truth  of  the  sentiments  he  expressed  in  1852. 
Anything  that  falls  from  his  lips  on  such  a  subject — or,  indeed, 
upon  any  subject — as  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs,1  is 
entitled  to  the  highest  consideration.  But,  how  long  is  he 
going  to  remain  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  ?  I  am 
not  speaking  now  from  mere  rumour.  I  ask — and  it  is  a  legiti- 
mate question  in  a  debate  on  our  foreign  policy — why  did  the 
noble  lord  take  the  important  post  he  occupies  ?  Was  it  be- 
cause his  opinions  on  the  French  connection  were  well  known? 
Well,  is  he  going  to  leave  the  post  because  his  cabinet,  or  the 
majority  of  his  cabinet,  does  not  agree  with  those  opinions  ? 
This  is  clearly  a  subject  on  which  some  explanation  is  due  to 
the  House. 

I  know  I  may  be  met,  but  I  hardly  think  I  shall  be  met, 
by  the  allegation  that  I  have  no  right,  to  suppose  the  noble 
lord  is  about  to  quit  the  office  he  is  so  competent  to  occupy.  I 
said  I  do  not  speak  from  rumour  on  this  point,  and  I  will  now 
state  to  the  House  the  authority  on  which  I  said  so.  It  is  a 
paragraph  in  a  paper — a  journal.  I  hope,  notwithstanding  the 
conduct  of  the  journals  that  have  criticised  some  of  us,  it  will 
not  be  undervalued  on  that  account.  It  is,  to  borrow  an  expres- 
sion from  our  neighbours,  <  a  communication,'  and  it  appears  in 
a  journal  of  great  respectability.  It  appears  in  large  letters, 
in  a  prominent  place,  in  a  newspaper,  and  commences  with  the 
significant  words,  '  We  are  authorised  to  state  ' — in  fact,  it  is 
redolent  of  Downing  Street,  and  no  doubt  comes  from  it.  This 
first  paragraph,  for  there  have  been  four  of  them — informs  us 
that  the  arrangements  which  were  not  quite  made  when  the 
cabinet  was  formed  are  now  pretty  well  settled :  the  noble  lord 
the  member  for  London  is  to  continue  leader  of  the  House  of 
Commons,  but  is  to  relinquish  the  office  of  Secretary  of  State, 
and  he  will  probably  not  assume  any  other  office.  I  have  not  the 
paragraphs  here,  and  it  was  only  by  chance  I  read  them  yester- 
day, but  I  can  state  pretty  nearly  the  substance  of  them.  That 

1  Lord  J.  Russell  was  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  during  the  early 
part,  of  the  Coalition  Government,  and  was  succeeded  by  Lord  Clarendon. 


OUR  KELATIONS   WITH   FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.          37 

was  a  very  strange  announcement  no  doubt,  but  then  came  the 
second  paragraph.  We  understood  from  the  first  that  the 
noble  lord  had  accepted  office  as  Secretary  of  State  provision- 
ally ;  but  people  were  surprised  at  this,  and  then  there  came 
forth  another  paragraph,  in  which  they  'were  authorised  to 
state '  that  this  was  a  mistake,  that  the  noble  lord  was  not  to 
hold  office  as  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs,  but  to  have 
some  office  where  there  was  nothing  to  do,  somewhere  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  Waterloo  Bridge.  In  fact,  the  only  place  the 
description  met  was  that  of  the  toll-gatherer. 

Well,  Sir,  that  paragraph  was  not  satisfactory.  The  noble 
lord,  whatever  the  opinions  of  some  of  us  may  be,  is  rather  a 
favourite  of  the  people  of  England,  and  they  did  not  think  that 
was  exactly  the  treatment  to  which  a  man  of  his  position  was 
entitled.  There  was  then  another  paragraph,  in  which  it  was 
stated  '  on  authority,'  that  all  the  other  paragraphs  were  erro- 
neous— that  the  noble  lord  was  going  to  resign  the  office  of 
Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs,  but  was  certainly  to  con- 
tinue leader  of  the  House,  and  was  to  have  a  room  allowed  him 
in  the  office  of  the  Secretary  of  State.  But  the  climax  was 
reached  when  a  fourth  and  rather  an  angry  paragraph,  written, 
it  seemed,  with  some  personal  indignation  at  what  had  already 
been  published,  appeared,  in  which  it  was  stated  that  nothing 
could  be  more  erroneous  or  premature  than  the  previous  an- 
nouncement that  the  noble  lord  was  to  continue  leader  of  the 
House  of  Commons ;  that  he  was  not  to  have  a  small  room  at 
the  Foreign  Office,  but  that  he  was  to  have  a  room  at  the  Coun- 
cil Office,  and  even  to  be  allowed  two  clerks. 

Sir,  I  protest  against  this  system  of  shutting  up  great  men 
in  small  rooms,  and  of  binding  to  the  triumphal  chariot  wheels 
of  administrative  ability,  all  the  force  and  genius  of  the  Whig 
party.  I  think  I  have  a  right  to  ask  the  noble  lord  frankly, 
'  Are  you  Secretary  of  State,  or  are  you  not  ? '  If  he  is  Secre- 
tary of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs,  he  will  no  doubt,  on  the  subject 
we  are  treating  to-night,  afford  us  very  satisfactory  information ; 
but  if  he  is  Secretary  of  State  now,  but  is  not  to  be  Secretary 
of  State  to-morrow,  I  think  the  declarations  of  the  noble  lord 
on  a  question  of  foreign  policy  will  be  much  depreciated  in  the 


38  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

value  which  we  should  otherwise  attach  to  them.  Sir,  consider- 
ing the  conduct  of  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty — conduct 
which  I  will  not  describe,  for  to  say  that  it  was  the  result  of 
design  would  be  offensive,  and  to  say  that  it  was  indiscreet 
would,  as  I  observed  before,  be  impertinent ;  considering  the 
conduct  of  the  President  of  the  Board  of  Control,  which,  be  it 
designed  or  indiscreet,  or  anything  else,  is  of  no  matter,  for  no 
epithets  can  rescue  him  from  the  position  he  occupies ;  con- 
sidering the  programme  of  the  First  Minister,  which  contradicts 
all  our  previous  experience  and  confounds  all  our  convictions ; 
considering  the  mysterious  circumstances  which  attend  the 
present  occupation  of  the  post  of  Secretary  of  State  by  the 
noble  lord  the  member  for  London,  I  think  I  have  a  right  to 
ask  for  what  has  not  yet  been  accorded  us — some  clear  explana- 
tion from  the  Government  with  respect  to  the  relations  which 
exist  between  this  country  and  France. 

Sir,  there  is  one  other  reason  why  I  am  bound  to  pursue 
this  inquiry  at  the  present  moment,  and  I  find  that  reason  in 
the  present  state  of  parties  in  this  House.  It  is  a  peculiar 
state  of  things ;  it  is  quite  unprecedented  ;  it  is  well  deserving 
of  the  attention  of  honourable  members  who  sit  in  that  quarter 
of  the  House  [the  benches  below  the  gangway  on  the  ministerial 
side~\.  We  have  at  this  moment  a  Conservative  ministry  and 
a  Conservative  Opposition.  Where  the  great  Liberal  party  is, 
I  pretend  not  to  know.  Where  are  the  Whigs  with  their  great 
tradition — two  centuries  of  Parliamentary  lustre,  and  deeds  of 
noble  patriotism  ?  There  is  no  one  to  answer.  Where  are  the 
youthful  energies  of  Kadicalism — its  buoyant  expectation — its 
sanguine  hopes?  Awakened,  I  fear,  from  the  first  dream  oJ 
that  ardent  inexperience  which  finds  itself  at  the  same  moment 
used  and  discarded — used  without  compunction,  and  not  dis- 
carded with  too  much  decency.  Where  are  the  Eadicals  ?  Is 
there  a  man  in  the  House  who  declares  himself  to  be  a  Eadical? 
(A  voice :  *  Yes ! ')  Oh,  no  !  You  would  be  afraid  of  being  caught 
and  changed  into  a  Conservative  minister.  Well !  how  has 
this  curious  state  of  things  been  brought  about  ?  What  is  the 
machinery  by  which  it  has  been  effected — -the  secret  system 


OUE   EELATIONS  WITH  FRANCE,   FEBRUARY   1853.  39 

that  has  brought  on  this  portentous  political  calamity  ?  I 
think  I  must  go  to  that  inexhaustible  magazine  of  political 
device,  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  to  explain  the  present 
state  of  affairs. 

The  House  may  recollect  that  some  two  years  ago,  when  I 
had  the  honour  of  addressing  them  on  a  subject  of  some  impor- 
tance, that  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  First  Lord  of 
the  Admiralty  afforded  us,  as  is  his  wont,  one  of  those  political 
creeds  in  which  his  speeches  abound  ;  and  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  on  that  occasion,  in  order  that  there  might  be  no 
mistake— in  order  that  the  House  and  the  country  should  be 
alike  undeceived,  and  that  they  should  not  have  any  false  ex- 
pectations from  him — especially  the  Conservative  or  Protec- 
tionist party — said,  in  a  manner  the  most  decided,  that  his 
political  creed  was  this  :  ' 1  take  my  stand  upon  Progress.' 
Well,  Sir,  I  thought  at  the  time  that  progress  was  an  odd  thing 
to  take  one's  stand  upon.  I  thought  at  the  time  that  a  states- 
man who  took  his  stand  upon  progress  might  find  he  had  got 
a  very  slippery  foundation.  I  thought  at  the  time,  though  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  weighs  his  words,  that  this  was  a 
piece  of  rhetorical  slip-slop.  But  I  apologise  for  the  momen- 
tary suspicion.  I  take  the  earliest  opportunity  of  expressing 
to  the  right  honourable  gentleman  my  sincere  regret  that  I 
had  for  a  moment  supposed  he  could  make  an  inadvertent 
observation.  I  find  that  it  was  a  system  perfectly  matured, 
and  now  brought  into  action,  of  which  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  spoke.  For  we  have  now  got  a  ministry  of  *  Pro- 
gress,' and  everyone  stands  still.  We  never  hear  the  word 
4  Reform '  now :  it  is  no  longer  a  ministry  of  Reform ;  it  is  a 
ministry  of  Progress,  every  member  of  which  agrees  to  do 
nothing.  All  difficult  questions  are  suspended.  All  questions 
which  cannot  be  agreed  upon  are  open  questions.  Now,  Sir, 
I  don't  want  to  be  unreasonable,  but  I  think  there  ought  to  be 
some  limit  to  this  system  of  open  questions.  It  is  a  system 
which  has  hitherto  prevailed  only  partially  in  this  country,  and 
which  never  has  prevailed  with  any  advantage  to  it.  Let  us, 
at  least,  fix  some  limit  to  it.  Let  Parliamentary  Reform,  let 


40  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL  OF  EEACONSFIELD. 

the  Ballot,  be  open  questions  if  you  please ;  let  every  institu- 
tion in  Church  and  State  be  open  questions ;  but,  at  least,  let 
your  answer  to  me  to-night  prove  that,  among  your  open  ques- 
tions, you  are  not  going  to  make  an  open  quest  ion""of  the  peace 
of  Europe. 


41 


PROSECUTION   OF   WAR,  May  24,  1855. 

[In  March  1855  Lord  John  Russell  had  gone  out  as  Plenipoten- 
tiary to  the  Vienna  Conference ;  and  while  there  had  offered  to  re- 
commend to  his  colleagues  terms  of  peace  proposed  by  Austria,  which 
on  his  return  home,  finding  that  they  did  not  approve  of  them,  he 
forbore  to  press,  and  did  not  divulge  to  Parliament.  Soon  after  his 
return  he  delivered  a  most  warlike  speech.  But  Mr.  Disraeli  believed 
that  on  his  first  return  from  Vienna  these  proposals  were  more 
favourably  received  by  the  cabinet  than  the  public  had  been  led  to 
believe,  and  that  at  one  moment  '  a  new  coalition  '  was  meditated,  011 
the  basis  of  them,  which  would  have  brought  to  the  Government  the  s\ip- 
port  of  Mr.  Gladstone,  Mr.  Milner  Gibson  and  the  Peace  Party,  with- 
out which  it  was  liable  to  defeat  at  any  moment.  The  Resolution 
therefore  was  intended  to  force  the  Government  to  declare  itself.  On 
•a  division  being  taken  the  motion  was  negatived  by  319  votes  to  219.] 

ME.  DISKAELI  rose,  according  to  notice,  to  move  the  fol- 
lowing resolution : — 

<  That  this  House  cannot  adjourn  for  the  recess  without  ex- 
pressing its  dissatisfaction  with  the  ambiguous  language  and 
uncertain  conduct  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  in  reference  to 
the  great  question  of  peace  or  war ;  and  that,  under  these  cir- 
cumstances, this  House  feels  it  a  duty  to  declare  that  it  will 
continue  to  give  every  support  to  Her  Majesty  in  the  prosecu- 
tion of  the  war  until  Her  Majesty  shall,  in  conjunction  with  her 
allies,  obtain  for  this  country  a  safe  and  honourable  peace.' 

He  said :  In  rising,  Sir,  to  move  the  resolution  which  is  now 
in  your  hands  I  wish  in  the  first  place  to  explain  to  the  House 
the  reasons  by  which  I  am  actuated  in  so  doing,  and  the  object 
which  I  have  in  view.  Sir,  I  have  watched  for  some  time,  as  I 
suppose  every  member  in  this  House  has  watched,  with  interest 
and  with  deep  anxiety,  the  conduct  of  the  Government  with 


42  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

respect  to  the  great  question  of  peace  or  war  during  the  recent 
Conference  at  Vienna ;  and  I  have  imbibed  an  opinion  with 
respect  to  the  intentions  of  the  Government  which  has  filled 
me  with  distrust.  I  thought  that  there  was  on  their  part 
language  so  ambiguous  and  conduct  so  uncertain  that  I  was  led1 
to  reflect  what  might  be  the  consequences  of  circumstances 
which  undoubtedly  had  filled  the  public  mind  of  this  country 
with  great  disquietude  and  great  discontent,  and  which  cer- 
tainly demanded  the  attention  and  consideration  of  every  man 
who  felt  that  he  had  a  responsible  duty  to  perform  in  this 
House.  It  was  impossible  for  me,  entertaining  that  opinion,  to 
ask  that  the  sentiments  of  this  House  should  be  publicly  de- 
clared on  this  subject  so  long  as  negotiations  were  going  on. 
Everybody  knows  that  the  obvious  and  irresistible  answer  to  me 
would  have  been,  '  Her  Majesty's  servants  are  at  this  moment 
engaged  in  confidential  communication  with  the  representatives 
of  foreign  Powers,  and  it  would  be  highly  indecorous  and  might 
be  injurious  to  the  interests  of  Her  Majesty's  service  if  the 
criticisms  of  Parliament  should  interfere  with  the  probable 
result  of  their  labours.'  Who  can  for  a  moment  deny  that  such 
an  objection  would  be  entirely  judicious  and  could  not  for  a 
moment  be  resisted?  At  last,  Sir,  after  some  inquiry  and 
after  an  unusual  period  of  time,  the  protocols  of  the  negotiations 
were  laid  on  the  table  of  this  House,  and  I  did  anticipate  that 
the  minister,  following  the  precedents  which  as  I  think  ought  to 
have  regulated  his  conduct,  would  have  taken  the  earliest 
opportunity  of  asking  the  opinion  of  Parliament  upon  the  labours 
of  the  representative  of  his  Ofovernment,  and  would  have  also 
taken  the  same  opportunity  of  laying  before  the  House  of 
Commons — without  of  course  committing  himself  to  embarrass- 
ing details,  but  still  frankly,  precisely,  and  explicitly — what 
were  the  intentions  of  the  Grovernment  with  regard  to  the 
great  question  of  peace  or  war. 

Well,  Sir,  I  more  than  once  invited  the  First  Minister  to 
take  that  course,  and  I  confess  that  even  to  the  last  I  did 
believe  that  he  would  have  reconsidered  his  first  conclusion, 
and  that-  he  would  have  felt  that  he  was  doing  his  duty  more 
satisfactorily  to  his  sovereign,  to  Parliament,  and  to  the  country 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1855.  43 

if  he  had  pursued  the  course  which  I  had  intimated.  I  did 
hope  that  the  noble  lord  would  have  perceived  that  the  public 
mind  was  in  that  state  as  certainly  to  render  it  necessary  above 
all  things  that  the  minister  should  relieve  and  enlighten  public 
opinion  on  subjects  of  such  surpassing  magnitude,  and  that  he 
would  therefore  have  been  anxious  to  ask,  in  the  constitutional 
and  customary  manner,  the  opinion  of  Parliament  on  the 
course  and  character  of  the  negotiation  which  he  had  sanctioned, 
and  the  policy  which  he  had  intended  to  pursue. 

Well,  Sir,  I  was  disappointed  in  that  expectation,  but  I  was 
not  the  only  person  who  was  disappointed ;  indeed,  I  think  I 
may  venture  to  say  that  the  House  and  the  country  were 
equally  disappointed;  I  think  I  may  venture  to  say  that  it 
would  have  been  satisfactory  to  the  public  in  the  present  per- 
plexed and  somewhat  sullen  disposition  of  the  nation,  if,  at 
the  conclusion  of  negotiations  which  had  been  carried  on  upon 
our  part  with  no  usual  pomp  and  ostentation,  and  which  had 
therefore  been  looked  to  with  proportionate  interest — I  think 
it  would  have  been  satisfactory  to  the  people  of  England  if  the 
First  Minister  of  the  Crown  had  come  forward  when  these 
negotiations  had  failed,  and  taken  that  opportunity  of  fairly 
expressing  the  views  of  his  administration  to  Parliament,  and 
have  given,  as  I  should  have  hoped,  an  expression  of  opinion 
which  would  have  sustained  and  reanimated  the  spirit  of  the 
country.  Nothing  of  this  kind,  however,  occurred ;  and  after 
some  lapse  of  time  I  hesitated  whether  I  should  myself  take 
the  necessary  step,  and  ultimately  shrank  from  doing  what  I 
felt  to  be  my  duty,  from  what  I  admit  may  be  a  cowardly  fear 
of  those  vulgar  imputations  which  are  often  too  influential — 
imputations  that  a  man,  when  compelled  in  the  exercise  of  his 
duty  in  this  House  to  do  that  which  may  in  some  degree  convey 
a  censure  of  the  Government,  is  actuated  by  the  most  unworthy 
motives.  I  declined,  I  am  ashamed  to  say,  and  more  than 
once  declined,  to  take  the  course  that,  in  the  position  which 
with  the  too  great  indulgence  of  my  friends,  I  occupy,  I  felt 
was  my  duty. 

However,  a  right  honourable  gentleman,  a  member  for  a 
great  city,  a  member  of  the  Privy  Council  of  the  Queen,  thought 


44  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

that  this  was  an  occasion  which  could  not  be  allowed  to  pass 
unnoticed,  and  therefore  he  placed  on  the  table  of  the  House  a 
motion  for  an  Address  to  Her  Majesty.  The  right  honourable 
gentleman  the  member  for  Manchester  (Mr.  Gibson),  instead 
of  the  First  Minister  of  the  Crown,  proposed  an  Address  to  Her 
Majesty  upon  the  grave  question  of  peace  or  war.  I  hope,  if 
the  noble  lord  could  have  screwed  up  his  courage  to  propose  an 
Address  to  his  Royal  Mistress,  that  it  would  not  have  been  con- 
ceived in  the  spirit  of  the  motion  of  the  right  honourable 
member  for  Manchester;  and  the  great  object  which  I  have  in 
view  to-night  is,  if  I  possibly  can,  to  extract  among  other 
things  from  the  Government  a  declaration  to  that  effect. 

But,  Sir,  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for 
Manchester,  in  giving  his  notice,  acted  in  a  perfectly  Parlia- 
mentary manner,  in  a  manner  quite  consistent  with  his  own 
high  character  and  eminent  talents  ;  and  I  heard  of  that  notice 
with  entire  satisfaction,  because  I  felt  that  the  question  would 
have  been  fairly  brought  before  Jhis  House,  that  we  should 
have  had  an  opportunity  of  venturing  at  length  into  the  dis- 
cussion of  topics  which  I  am  myself  soon  to  treat  upon — topics 
which  I  believe  to  be  of  the  utmost  importance  to  the  honour 
and  to  the  interests  of  this  country.  And,  although  I  could  not 
support  that  right  honourable  gentleman  in  this  motion,  I  was 
grateful  to  him  for  affording  to  me  and  my  friends  the  oppor- 
tunity of  expressing  our  views  upon  this  subject,  and  for  taking 
a  course  which  would  have  elicited  that  expression  of  opinion 
which  I  believe  now  to  be  absolutely  necessary  for  the 
country. 

Sir,  I  never  for  a  moment  supposed  that  that  discussion 
would  not  take  place.  Is  there  a  gentleman  on  either  side  of 
the  House  who  could  for  an  instant  have  imagined  that  it  could 
be  suppressed  ?  Not  the  slightest  objection  was  made  on  the 
part  of  the  Government  when  the  right  honourable  gentleman's 
notice  was  given.  True  it  is  that  the  member  for  Manchester 
had  not  the  power  of  commanding  a  day,  in  order  to  bring  the 
question  before  the  House ;  but  then  the  unquestionable  mag- 
nitude and  gravity  of  the  subject  to  be  brought  under  consider- 
ation, the  anxious  feeling  of  the  people  of  this  country  in  regard 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAR,   MAY   1856.  45 

to  it,  and  the  sense  of  propriety  which  I  suppose  still  influences 
a  Queen's  minister  who  is  the  leader  of  the  House  of  Commons, 
convinced  everyone  immediately  that  no  privileges  of  place,  no 
arrangements  of  public  business,  could  for  a  moment  be  obstacles 
to  appointing  a  day  when  that  discussion  should  be  fairly  and 
fully  conducted.  Accordingly,  the  noble  lord,  with  that  impulse 
which  we  could  only  expect  on  his  part,  gave  at  once  an  oppor- 
tunity for  facilitating  the  discussion,  offering  to  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  a  day ;  and  at  last  we  had  an  Address  to 
the  Crowu,  to  be  moved  by  a  Privy  Councillor,  which  raised  the 
whole  question  of  peace  or  war.  The  day  is  appointed  by  the 
minister ;  Parliament  is  assembled ;  the  House  is  more  than 
usually  full ;  the  entire  attention  of  the  nation  is  fixed  upon 
the  House  of  Commons,  believing  that  at  length,  after  a  dreary 
interval  of  inglorious  lassitude,  this  assembly  was  about  to  give 
some  signs  of  political  life  and  Parliamentary  duty  ;  when  to 
our  great  surprise,  however — to  the  surprise,  I  should  think, 
of  everyone  who  was  not  in  the  secret,  for  the  secret  was  well 
kept — the  expectation  of  Parliament,  of  the  country — I  might 
almost  say,  of  Europe — was  baulked,  and  no  possible  chance 
whatever  given  for  any  discussion  taking  place  upon  the  most 
momentous  transactions  that  have  occurred  in  this  country  since 
the  peace  of  1815,  and  which,  strange  to  say,  have,  not  only 
most  deeply  engrossed  the  interest,  but  absorbed  the  thoughts 
and  passions  of  the  people  of  England. 

Sir,  I  need  not  recall  to  the  recollection  of  the  House  what 
happened  here  on  Monday  last.  The  scene  then  enacted  was  too 
vivid  and  dramatic  to  be  easily  forgotten.  A  right  honourable 
gentleman  suddenly  rose,1  recently  the  colleague  and,  I  suppose, 
still  the  friend  of  the  noble  lord,  and,  whether  actuated  merely 
by  political  considerations  or  by  mere  social  influence,  as  some 
suppose,  that  right  honourable  gentleman,  referring  to  some 
papers  which  have  been  long  lying  on  the  table  of  this  House, 
and  which  all  of  us  have  studied,  turns  to  a  well-thumbed 
passage  and  asks  the  First  Minister  of  the  Crown  whether,  as 
there  slightly  intimated,  it  be  a  fact  that  there  is  a  possibility 
of  renewed  negotiations  taking  place.  I  will  do  the  noble  lord 
1  Mr.  Sidney  Herbert. 


46  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

the  justice  to  say  that  he  showed  uncompromising  courage  on 
that  occasion,  for  he  did  not  condescend  to  assign  the  slightest 
ground  for  our  believing  anything  of  the  kind.  But  nothing 
seemed  to  satisfy  the  appetite  for  suppression  which  charac- 
terised the  principal  conspirators  on  that  occasion.  Although  the 
noble  lord  did  not  give  the  House  or  the  right  honourable 
querist  the  slightest  ground  for  fearing  that  the  discussion  in 
this  House  would  interfere  with  any  negotiations  whatever, 
another  noble  lord l — perhaps  also  influenced  by  social  feelings 
which  we  all  respect — rose  and,  with  a  naivete  and  a  simplicity 
that  all  must  have  admired,  first  afforded  the  House  the  un- 
necessary information  that  he  had  engaged  to  second  the  motion 
of  the  member  for  Manchester,  and  in  the  next  place  said  that 
really,  after  what  had  fallen  from  the  member  for  the  Uni- 
versity of  Oxford 2 — not,  of  course,  after  the  answer  of  the  noble 
lord — he  thought  it  would  be  totally  impossible  for  him  to  fulfil 
his  promise. 

Well,  Sir,  in  a  very  short  time  it  was  found  that  we  were  to 
have  no  debate  on  the  great  question  of  peace  or  war  before  the 
Whitsuntide  holidays,  which  were  then  impending ;  and,  still 
influenced,  Sir,  by  the  convictions  which  I  entertain  on  this 
subject,  believing  that  the  conduct  of  Her  Majesty's  ministers 
with  respect  to  this  question  deserves  the  utmost  suspicion  and 
distrust,  and,  if  not  vigilantly  watched  and  carefully  controlled, 
may  lead  to  consequences  most  perilous  to  the  honour  and  the 
interests  of  this  country,  I  felt  it  my  duty  to  give  that  notice 
which  I  shall  now,  Sir,  soon  place  in  your  hands.  That  is  the 
simple  reason  for  that  notice.  It  is  a  notice  limited  to  the 
issue  which  is  attempted  to  be  raised  by  the  resolution.  If  the 
motion  be  one  that  involves  a  question  of  confidence  or  of 
censure  upon  the  Government,  let  it  not  be  said  that  it  has 
been  hastily  prepared,  or  that  sufficient  notice  has  not  been 
afforded  to  honourable  members.  The  motion,  on  my  part,  has 
risen  from  circumstances  of  the  hour.  The  gentlemen  who  sit 
opposite  have  had  the  same  notice  of  it  as  my  own  friends :  and 

1  Lord  Harry  Vane. 

2  Mr.   Gladstone  spoke  after   Lord   Palmerston's   answer  to  Mr.  Sidney 
Herbert,  and  appealed  to  Mr.  Gibson  to  withdraw  his  motion. 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAE,  MAY   1855.  47 

I  should  be  ashamed  to  attempt  on  such  a  subject  to  take  a 

minister  by  surprise.     In  fact,  if  the  House  will  permit  me  to 

say  it,  having  no  confidence  in  the  Government,  and  feeling  that 

it  would  not  be  improper  to  ask  the  opinion  of  the  House  on 

that  general  question,  nevertheless  the  time  alone  would  deter 

me  from  giving   a  notice   of  so  comprehensive   a   character, 

because  I  could  not,  in  taking  such  a  course,  have  given  that 

,mple  and  sufficient  notice  to  every  member  of  this  House 

hich  under  such  circumstances  is  usual.     The  present  motion 

as  grown  out  of  the   peculiar   circumstances   which  I   have 

described.     It  is  a  loyal  and  a  legitimate   motion;   it  takes 

nobody  by  surprise,  and  honourable  gentlemen  opposite  were 

aware  of  its  purpose  almost  as  soon  as  those  with  whom  I  have 

the  honour  of  acting. 

Now,  Sir,  having  stated  my  reasons  for  giving  this  notice,  I 
will  now  venture  to  attempt  to  express  what  I  purpose  by  it. 
I  propose  to-night,  if  possible,  to  induce  the  House  to  come  to 
the  same  conclusion  to  which  I  have  come  myself.  I  think  the 
conduct  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  with  respect  to  the 
question  of  peace  or  war  has  been  uncertain,  and  their  language 
ambiguous,  and  if  the  House  be  of  my  opinion,  I  hope  the 
House  will  join  with  me  in  arresting  the  course  of  a  policy 
which  they  must  feel  in  this  case  to  be  injurious  to  the 
country.  I  purpose,  if  possible,  to  induce  them  to  come  to 
that  conclusion.  I  ask  something  else :  I  ask  the  House, 
when  uncertainty  is  so  prevalent,  when  ambiguity  of  phrase 
and  conduct  is  so  rife,  that  they  will,  in  a  manner  which  cannot 
be  mistaken,  declare  to  the  country  that  with  regard  to  this 
war  their  opinions  have  not  changed,  and  that  their  spirit  is 
not  daunted,  and  that  while  they  disapprove  the  language  and 
conduct  of  the  Government,  and  are  resolved  if  they  possibly 
can  by  the  vote  of  to-night  to  destroy  what  is  the  cause  of  this 
ambiguous  language  and  uncertain  conduct,  they  are  at  the 
same  time  ready  to  carry  on  this  war  until  its  great  object — a 
secure  and  honourable  peace — be  obtained.  With  those  views 
I  shall  to-night  on  this  question  attempt  to  obtain  a  clear  and 
precise  opinion  from  the  House  of  Commons,  and  also  if 
possible,  though  with  less  hope,  from  Her  Majesty's  ministers. 


48  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

Now,  Sir,  having  made  these  observations  with  the  indul- 
gence of  the  House,  on  the  course  and  object  of  this  proposition, 
let  me,  before  I  enter  into  a  severer  research  advert  to  an  ob- 
servation made  by  the  noble  lord  the  other  night l  upon  the 
manner  in  which  I  gave  this  notice.  The  noble  lord  made  a 
good-humoured  tu  quoque — and  a  tu  quoque  should  always  be 
good-humoured,  for  it  has  nothing  else  to  recommend  it — and 
he  intimated  to  the  House,  with  no  great  refinement  of  ex- 
pression2 that  there  was  some  concert  between  me  and  the 
honourable  member  for  Aylesbury  (Mr.  Layard)  in  bringing 
forward  this  motion,  because  the  honourable  gentleman  relin- 
quished his  right  to  bring  forward  his  motion,  to  which  he 
could  prefer  a  superior  claim  to  mine.  I  beg  to  say  that  I  had 
no  communication  with  the  honourable  member  on  this  sub- 
ject :  I  cannot  say  that  if  I  had  met  the  honourable  gentleman 
in  the  lobby,  I  should  have  refrained  from  having  any  commu- 
nication with  him.  He  has  very  often  postponed  the  motion  of 
which  he  has  given  notice,  and  had  I  met  him  I  might  naturally 
have  said,  *  I  am  going  to  give  my  notice  :  do  you  really  intend 
to  bring  forward  your  motion  ?  '  But,  as  it  happened,  I  did  not 
meet  him.  I  state  this  because  I  do  not  want  anybody  to  con- 
sider that  I  see  any  impropriety  in  my  communicating  with 
the  honourable  member  for  Aylesbury  or  anyone  else.  As  long 
as  I  am  a  member  of  this  House  I  hope  to  maintain  that  frank 
communication  with  every  member  of  Parliament  which  I  trust 
has  always  distinguished  my  conduct.  So  far  as  the  honourable 
gentleman  is  concerned,  I  have  known  him  from  childhood,  and 
have  always  had  great  confidence  in  his  ability  and  character  : 
his  abilities  are  now  European  in  fame  and  have  justified  my 
opinion  of  them ;  and  whatever  the  unfortunate  circumstances  3 
which  have  prejudiced  many  against  him  in  this  House — which 
I  deplore,  and  which,  so  far  as  he  is  concerned,  I  disapprove — 
still  I  have  no  doubt  that  the  time  will  come  when,  with  his 
talents  and  excellent  disposition,  he  will  outlive  those  prejudices, 

1  May  22. 

2  '  A  scene  is  being  enacted  which  does  great  credit  to  all  the  actors  con- 
cerned in  it.' 

s  Mr.  Layard  was  at  this  time  one  of  the  leaders  of  the  Administrative 
Reform  League. 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAK,   MAY   1855.  49 

•which  I  think,  and  I  tell  him  so  frankly,  have  some  fair  founda- 
tion. The  honourable  gentleman  and  the  House  will  not,  I  am 
sure,  misunderstand  my  observations.  I  should  not  have  stated 
this  unless  I  had  just  been  informed — I  hope  I  am  wrong,  but 
I  am  afraid  the  rumour  is  authentic — that  the  honourable 
gentleman  intends  to  vote  against  my  motion.  I  do  not 
believe,  however,  that  he  or  anyone  else  will  vote  against  it 
until  they  have  heard  the  debate  about  to  ensue.  I  think  the 
debate  is  a  little  too  grave  and  important  for  leaders  on  either 
side  of  the  House  to  count  noses  with  accuracy.  We  are  going 
to-night  to  discuss  no  common  subject ;  we  are  going  to  weigh, 
scrutinise  and  examine  the  conduct  of  high  personages  intrusted 
with  most  solemn  duties  and  upon  whose  conduct  of  these 
duties  depends  the  greatness  of  this  country  and  the  happiness 
and  prosperity  of  its  people.  He  would  not  be  a  bold  man 
only — he  would  be  a  shameless  man — who  could  dare  to  say 
before  this  discussion  that  his  name  was  registered  in  the 
pocket-book  of  any  party. 

Sir,  the  circumstances  to  which  I  am  about  to  call  the- 
attention  of  the  House  will  require  no  great  exercise  of  memory 
to  command.  I  am  not  going  to  ask  them  to  go  back  to  the 
passage  of  the  Pruth,  or  to  the  declaration  of  war  ;  my  criticism 
to-night  will  be  on  public  transactions  of  recent  date,  though 
I  admit  that  without  a  previous  knowledge  of  the  circumstances 
that  preceded  them  it  would  be  more  difficult  to  form  an  accurate 
and  sober  judgment  on  the  subject.  My  canvas  is  so  small 
that  I  shall  commence  with  the  installation  in  office  of  the 
First  Minister  opposite.1  Glorious  epoch  for  this  country ! 
One  cannot  but  remember  the  triumphant  cheers  which  an- 
nounced that  the  crown  of  Parliamentary  laurel  encircled  that 
reverend  brow.  There  was  a  minister  at  last  who  would  vindi- 
cate the  honour  of  the  country ;  there  was  a  minister  at  last 
who  would  carry  on  the  war  like  Chatham,  and  who  would 
maintain  his  principles  in  this  House  like  Pitt ;  there  was  a 
man,  backed  by  an  enthusiastic  people  to  redeem  a  falling 
State  !  I  remember  on  that  occasion,  when  the  first  fervour  was 
a  little  past — when  men  began  to  cease,  as  it  were,  to  feel,  and 

1  Lord  Palmerston. 
VOL.  II.  E 


50  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

to  commence  to  think— that  a  member  of  the  House  rose  in  his 
place  and  asked  a  significant  interrogatory  :  I  am  sure  the  House 
may  anticipate  the  sagacious  mind  that  would  forestall  the 
fast-dissipating  enthusiasm.  The  member  for  Carlisle l  it  was 
who  rose  and  asked  that  question.  The  right  honourable  gentle- 
man had,  in  a  moment  of  thoughtlessness,  forgotten  to  leave 
the  cabinet  when  Lord  Aberdeen  retired;  but  it  was  a  moment 
of  amiable  weakness,  which  we  are  probably  all  subject  to,  and 
which  all  of  us,  especially  those  in  office,  can  easily  pardon. 
When  the  right  honourable  gentleman  took  his  seat  below  the 
gangway,  and  scanned  the  scene,  and  threw  his  sagacious  eye 
over  the  various,  yet  memorable,  history  of  those  thirty-seven 
years  to  which  he  appealed  a  few  nights  ago,  the  right  honour- 
able gentleman  then  remembered  that  a  few  years  back — a 
very  few  years  back— he  had,  assisted  by  the  eminent  lieu- 
tenants who  are  also  sitting  near  him,  impeached  the  First 
Minister  of  the  Crown,  on  account  of  his  conduct  of  our  foreign 
affairs.  The  noble  lord  the  First  Minister,  if  not  then  a  traitor, 
was  at  least  a  '  firebrand.'  I  well  recall  that  memorable  Parlia- 
mentary contest  which  ended  in  a  triumph  for  the  noble  lord— 
a  triumph,  I  am  bound  to  say,  not  gained  so  much  by  the  valour 
and  number  of  his  legions  as  by  his  own  distinguished  prowess. 
The  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for  Carlisle,  re- 
membering all  these  things;  remembering  that  his  foreign 
policy  was  the  weak  point  of  the  noble  lord ;  remembering  that 
on  this  score  he  had  formerly  failed  in  turning  the  noble  lord 
out  of  the  cabinet — a  duty  reserved  for  the  noble  lord  opposite 2 
(Lord  John  Russell) — rose  in  his  place,  and,  in  a  House  not  very 
full  nor  very  attentive,  said  (he  having  just  left  the  cabinet, 
and  his  seat,  although  filled  by  a  not  unworthy  successor,  being 
still  warm  with  his  ample  presence)  that  he  wished  to  address 
an  inquiry  to  the  noble  lord,  with  whose  opinion  he  must,  at 
that  time,  have  been  familiar,  and  asked  whether — in  the  new 
Government  of  which  he  had  been  so  recently  a  member— 
whether  there  was  to  be  any  change  in  the  principles  upon 

1  Sir  James  Graham. 

2  In  consequence  of  Lord  Palmerston's  unguarded  communication  to  t 
French  Ambassador  relating  to  the  coup  d'etat. 


PBOSECUTION   OF  WAK,   MAY   1855.  51 

[  -which  the  foreign  policy  of  the  new  administration  was  to  be 
conducted ;  whether  the  policy  recommended  and  followed  by 
[  Lord  Aberdeen  was  to  be  adopted ;  whether,  above  all  things, 
j  there  was  to  be  any  change  in  the  terms  and  conditions  which 
1  our  plenipotentiary  was  to  insist  upon  at  the  Conference  of 
Vienna?  The  right  honourable  gentleman  must,  therefore, 
have  had  some  suspicion  upon  the  subject ;  but  his  suspicion 
was  in  a  moment  dispelled.  The  noble  lord  rose  and  said,  'On 
the  contrary,  our  principles  are  the  same ;  our  policy  is  entirely 
identified  with  the  policy  of  Lord  Aberdeen ;  no  difference  has 
been  dreamed  of  for  a  moment  with  regard  to  the  conditions 
upon  which  peace  is  to  be  sought  for  at  the  Vienna  Conference.' 
The  right  honourable  gentleman  said  he  heard  the  statement 
with  perfect  satisfaction,  and  should,  under  those  circumstances, 
conscientiously  refrain  from  even  the  appearance  of  factious 
opposition  to  Her  Majesty's  Government. 

We  started  with  that  interlude.     Strange  to  say,  after  a 

certain  time  the  plenipotentiary,  whose  conduct  we  shall  have 

hereafter  to  discuss,  returns  frustrated ;  a  plenipotentiary  who 

represented   the  policy  of  Lord   Aberdeen   returned   bootless 

from  the  conference.    The  protocols  in  due  time  were  laid  upon 

the  table,  but  the  noble  lord  did  not,  as  I  have  before  said, 

fulfil  his  duty  as  Chief  Minister  of  the  Crown  by  moving  an 

address  to  his  sovereign.      Another  gentleman,1  however,  set 

him  the   example,  and   a   motion   is   placed   upon  the  table. 

That  motion,  if  it  meant  anything,  meant  a  disapprobation  of 

!    the  conduct  of  the  plenipotentiary  at  the  Conference.     It  meant 

j    that  the  conditions  of  peace  he  insisted  upon  were  unreasonable, 

I   and  that  the  terms  which  were  proffered  ought  to  have  been 

accepted.     If  it   meant   anything   there  is  no  doubt  that  it 

!   meant   that.     It  is  derogatory  to  the  high   character  of  the 

'   member  for   Manchester  to  suppose  that  it  meant  anything 

!   else.     But  what  do  the  right  honourable  gentleman  and  his 

two  right  honourable  friends 2  do  ?     They  were  understood  to 

be  the  chief  supporters  of  the  motion  of  the  right  honourable 

member  for  Manchester.2     They  rose  in  their  places  and  threw 

1  Mr.  M.  Gibson. 

2  Mr.  Gladstone  and  Mr.  Sidney  Herbert. 

E  2 


52  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

their  shields  over  the  coming  conflict ;  but  unless  I  am  much 
mistaken — and  I  would  not  for  a  moment  refer  to  the  informa- 
tion unless  it  had  been  given  me  in  this  House  apparently  with 
high  authority  and  without  reserve — that  cluster  of  eloquence  l 
and  of  intellect  which  had  seceded  from  the  cabinet  of  the 
noble  lord  were  prepared  to  throw  the  lustre  of  their  eloquence, 
to  exercise  their  highest  faculties,  to  make  use  of  their  finest 
rhetoric  in  the  attempt  to  influence  the  opinion  of  the  House 
in  favour  of  the  motion  about  to  be  brought  forward. 

What  is  the  inference  to  be  drawn  from  this  ?     Why,  that 
there  was  some  change  in  the  conditions  on  which  peace  was 
to  be  sought  for,  and  that  there  was  some  uncertainty  in  the 
conduct  for  which  the  First  Minister  had  given  a  pledge  to 
the  right  honourable  baronet ;  because,  if  the  noble  lord  had 
acted  upon  the  pledge  he  had  given  to  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  with  regard  to  the   instructions   with   which   the 
plenipotentiary  was  to  be  provided,  and  if  the  plenipotentiary 
had  ably  and  completely  carried  these  instructions  into  effect, 
how  could   the  right  honourable   gentleman   and   his  friends 
justify  to  themselves  their  support  of  a  motion  which  was  to 
challenge   the  propriety  of  the  noble  lord's  conduct,  and   to 
declare  that  the  conditions  of  peace  upon  which  Government 
had  insisted  ought  not  to  have  been  urged  ?      The  inquiry  w 
made  by  the  right  honourable  baronet  on  February  23,  1855 
and  this  leads  me  back  for  a  moment  to  the  unsuccessful  pleni 
potentiary,  to  the  critical  period  when  that  noble  individ 
was  appointed  to  office  ;  for  upon  that  appointment,  and  upo 
the  conduct  of  the  noble  lord  at  Vienna,  much  depends.     Th 
appointment  of  the  plenipotentiary  did  not  at  the  first  blus 
appear  to  be  a  happy  one.     The  noble  lord  the  member  fo 
London  is  so  distinguished  that  I  find  it  difficult  to  fix  upoi 
any  subject  or  upon  any  part  of  his  life  in  which  he  has  nol 
rendered  himself  remarkable ;  but  I  know  nothing  by  whicl 
the  noble  lord  has  been  more  distinguished  than  by  his  denun 
ciation  of  the  power  and  the  ambition  of  Russia.     It  is  to  th 
noble  lord  that  I  think  may  be  mainly  attributed — and  in 
various  career  his  patriotism  may  be  sustained  and  rewarde 

1  The  Peelites. 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1355.  53 

by  the  recollection — the  passion  of  this  great  country  for  a 
decisive  struggle  with  the  colossal  energies  of  the  Eussian 
empire.  The  noble  lord,  then  occupying  an  eminent  post — 
one  more  eminent,  I  am  sorry  to  say,  than  that  which  he  now 
occupies — addressed,  as  the  leader  of  the  House  of  Commons^ 
not  only  fervid  but  inflammatory  language  to  the  Parliament 
and  people  of  England,  the  object  of  which  was  to  show  that  war 
with  Kussia  was  the  duty  of  the  country,  and  that  it  ought  to 
be  carried  on  in  no  hesitating  spirit,  but  ought  to  be  undertaken 
by  us  with  a  determination  of  realising  considerable  results. 
The  noble  lord  then  said  : — 

*  The  British  ministry  and  nation  would  be  the  most  silly 
of  mortals  if  they  were  to  sign  an  insecure  peace,  which  would 
leave  it  to  the  public  enemy  to  bide  his  time  until,  by  the 
dissensions  of  the  other  Powers ;  until,  by  the  weakness  of 
some  of  these  Powers,  he  should  find  a  better  opportunity  of 
accomplishing  his  design.' 

If  you  cheer  that  you  will  cheer  still  more  at  what  I  am 
about  to  read.  The  noble  lord  said  a  little  later : — 

'  The  power  and  ambition  of  Kussia  are  dangerous  to 
Europe's  independence,  and  incompatible  with  Europe's  future 
security ;  therefore,  no  insufficient,  no  insecure  peace  is  to  be 
made :  and  England  cannot  lay  down  arms  until  material 
guarantees  are  obtained,  which  reducing  Russia's  power  to 
proportions  innocuous  to  the  general  liberty  will  afford  perfect 
security  for  the  future.' 

That  is  a  brave  spirit.  When  the  noble  lord  goes  to  war 
he  knows  what  he  is  going  to  war  about :  he  wants  to  reduce 
the  proportions  of  the  Russian  empire;  he  wants  material 
guarantees  for  peace.  These  are  designs  which  some  may 
think  rash,  but  all  must  at  least  respect  as  great.  I  am  obliged 
to  refer  to  these  circumstances  in  order  to  show  the  character 
and  the  antecedents  of  the  noble  lord  who  was  appointed  our 
plenipotentiary  to  obtain  peace.  It  was  a  happy  choice.  The 
noble  lord,  having  frightened  the  country — I  should  not  say 
the  country,  for  it  was  then  ready  for  anything — but  having 
frightened  the  diplomacy  of  Europe  with  those  announcements 
that  Her  Majesty's  ministers  were  going  to  reduce  the  propor- 


54  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

tions  of  the  Russian  empire,  and  were  going  to  commence  a 
war  which  was  not  to  terminate  until  we  obtained  material 
guarantees  for  peace,  naturally  called  up  in  the  other  House 
of  Parliament  another  noble  lord  whom,  although  living,  I 
think  I  may  venture  to  call  illustrious.  Then  it  was  that  Lord 
Lyndhurst — no  advocate  of  a  craven  policy — Lord  Lyndhurst, 
who  in  a  green  old  age  has  shown  a  manly  vigour  in  vindicat- 
ing the  high  character  of  his  country  ;  Lord  Lyndhurst,  who, 
although  an  orator  and  a  patriot,  is  still  a  lawyer  and  a  states- 
man, asked  this  question :  he  demanded  an  explanation  as  to 
the  consistency  of  such  statements  as  reducing  the  proportions 
of  the  Russian  empire  and  taking  material  guarantees  with 
the  protocol  of  December  5,  1853,  to  which  France  and  Eng- 
land were  signatories,  which  stated — 

'The  present   war  cannot  in  any  case  lead  to  territorial 
diminutions  or  modifications  of  the  Russian  empire.' 

What  happened  then  ?  I  would  not  refer  to  Lord  Clarendon 
if  he  were  not  still  Secretary  of  State,  for  I  shall  endeavour, 
as  much  as  I  can,  not  to  touch  upon  the  policy  of  the  illustrious 
corpses  of  the  Aberdeen  administration.  I  will  refer  only  to 
existing  and  responsible  ministers,  although  it  is  not  to  be 
supposed  that  any  man  who  is  a  Secretary  of  State  now  would 
do  anything  so  mean  and  pitiful  as  to  say  that  he  was  not  re- 
sponsible for  the  deeds  of  the  defunct  administration.  Well, 
what  did  Lord  Clarendon  say  ?  Lord  Clarendon  last  year  was 
indignant  at  the  inquiry  of  Lord  Lyndhurst.  He  said  that 
the  language  quoted  by  the  noble  and  learned  lord  might  be 
the  will  of  Austria  and  Prussia,  but  it  was  not  the  will  of 
England  and  of  France.  This  was  toward  the  end  of  the 
session,  and  therefore,  notwithstanding  even  the  protocol 
signed  by  France  and  England,  which  declared  that,  whatever 
•the  result  of  the  war  might  be,  the  -  territory  of  Russia  might 
not  be  diminished  in  extent,  the  English  Government,  by 
the  head  of  its  diplomacy,  the  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign 
Affairs,  stated  in  the  highest  House  of  Parliament  that  England 
would  not  be  influenced  or  controlled  by  the  protocol  that  they 
had  signed. 

Well,  Sir,  I  have  shown  that  the  noble  lord  who  was  selected 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1855.  55 

for  a  plenipotentiary  to  obtain  peace,  was  unquestionably  an 
advocate  of  war — and  of  war  on  a  great  scale.  It  is  of  infi- 
nite importance,  when  we  have  to  investigate  the  conduct  of 
the  noble  lord  in  this  emergency,  that  we  should  clearly 
comprehend  what  were  the  antecedents  of  the  noble  lord 
and  his  qualifications  for  the  office  which  I  think  he 
rashly  undertook.  The  House  will  remember  that  it  is 
only  forty-eight  hours  since  the  First  Minister  of  the  Crown 
said  that,  although  these  negotiations  had  been  unsuccessful, 
they  had  been  conducted  with  consummate  ability.  The  noble 
lord  (Viscount  Palmerston)  nods  his  head.  I  accept  that 
ceremony  as  if  the  noble  lord  threw  down  his  glove,  and  I  call 
upon  the  House  of  Commons,  without  respect  to  party,  to  give 
a  verdict  with  respect  to  the  conduct  of  our  plenipotentiary  at 
Vienna.  Do  not  let  it  be  said  that  I  am  making  comments 
upon  the  conduct  of  the  noble  lord  because  I  am  a  member  of 
a  different  political  party,  and  that  this  is  a  party  move.  If  I 
show  that  his  conduct  at  those  Conferences  led  to  consequences 
prejudicial  to  the  public  weal,  it  is  my  duty  to  bring  these 
things  forward.  It  was  not  enough  that  the  noble  lord  made 
the  speech  to  which  I  have  referred,  but  he,  the  plenipotentiary 
of  peace,  distinguished  himself  in  this  House  by  the  high  tone 
he  assumed  with  regard  to  Kussia,  and  the  rulers  of  Eussia ; 
and,  although  then  the  First  Minister  of  State  in  this  House,  he 
did  not  hesitate  to  denounce  the  conduct  of  the  Emperor  and 
his  minister  as  false  and  fraudulent. 

The  noble  lord  did  more.  As  the  session  advanced,  as  the 
noble  lord's  blood  grew  more  warm,  in  a  moment  of  excite- 
ment (it  was  in  the  month  of  July),  the  noble  lord  revealed  the 
secret  policy  of  the  profound  cabinet  of  which  he  was  a  member 
to  the  House  of  Commons,  and  we  then  obtained  the  authori- 
tative information  that  war  was  to  be  carried  on  and  peace 
obtained  in  no  less  a  manner  than  by  the  conquest  of  provinces, 
and  the  destruction  of  that  stronghold  that  threw  its  frowning 
shadows  over  the  waters  of  the  Black  Sea.  The  noble  lord 
made  an  explanation  afterwards  of  the  words  he  used ;  but,  as 
has  been  well  observed,  «  Apologies  only  account  for  that  which 
they  do  not  alter.'  When  the  noble  lord  thus  announced  the 


56  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

invasion  of  the  Crimea,  and  the  destruction  of  Sebastopol,  I, 
for  one,  said  that  I  had  listened  to  the  statement  with  dismay. 
These  were  the  qualifications  of  the  plenipotentiary  of  peace, 
whose  selection  did  so  much  credit  to  the  judgment  of  the 
First  Minister,  who,  called  to  power  by  the  enthusiasm  of  the 
people,  and  determined  to  put  the  right  man  in  the  right  place, 
sends  a  minister  to  negotiate  peace  who  had  proclaimed  an 
internecine  war. 

But  these  were  not  all  the  qualifications  of  the  noble  lord. 
It  was  not  enough  that  he  had  distinguished  himself  by  address- 
ing inflammatory  harangues  to  the  House  of  Commons.  It  was 
not  enough  that  in  a  moment  of  outrageous  and  fatal  indiscretion 
he  revealed,  as  one  might  say,  the  coming  disasters  of  his 
country.  It  was  not  enough  that  he  had  denounced  the  conduct 
of  the  Emperor  of  Russia  and  his  ministers  as  false  and  fraudu- 
lent. The  noble  lord  signalised  himself  by  another  exploit 
before  he  went  to  make  peace  for  his  country.  The  noble  lord 
destroyed  a  cabinet.  He  tripped  up  the  Prime  Minister  because 
he  was  not  earnest  enough  in  prosecuting  the  war.  These  were 
the  antecedents,  these  the  qualifications  of  the  minister  pleni- 
potentiary to  whom  was  consigned  the  fulfilment  of  the  most 
important  duties  that  have  ever  been  delegated  to  a  subject  of 
the  Crown  since  the  great  Congress  of  Vienna.  This  was  the 
dove  sent  out  to  the  troubled  waters  of  Europe. 

It  has  been  said  of  the  noble  lord — I  think,  very  unjustly — 
by  a  high,  though  anonymous  authority,  that  the  noble  lord 
was  not  calculated  for  the  post  of  plenipotentiary  :  in  the  first 
place,  because  he  was  not  an  eminent  diplomatist,  and,  secondly, 
because  he  did  not  take  that  leading  position  at  this  moment 
in  this  country  which  might  have  compensated  for  his  want  of 
diplomatic  experience  in  the  opinion  of  the  Russian  Court.  That 
was,  I  think,  unjust,  because  I  shall  show  that  the  noble  lord 
has  had  a  great  though  not  lengthened  experience  of  diplomatic 
affairs.  He  was  once  at  the  head  of  the  diplomatic  body  of  his 
country,  and  in  that  capacity  performed  feats  of  no  mean  cha- 
racter, which  greatly  influenced  subsequent  events,  and  are  at 
this  moment  influencing  the  fortunes  of  this  country ;  and, 
although  it  is  quite  true  that,  having  held  this  office,  when 


PEOSECUTION   OF  WAR,   MAY   1855.  57 

the  noble  lord  was  called  upon  by  his  sovereign  to  form  a 
Government  he  could  only  find  one  gentleman  to  serve  under 
him,  and  that  gentleman  the  present  First  Minister,  and 
though  the  noble  lord,  with  his  great  position  and  with  all  his 
genius,  which  I  admire,  finds  himself  in  this  disagreeable  pre- 
dicament of  twice  filling  a  subordinate  position  in  two  adminis- 
trations which  are  Whig  administrations,  still  that  noble  lord 
is  the  leader  of  the  great  Whig  party — that  small  company  of 
great  families  who  ever  rule  this  country,  when  in  power,  by 
the  principles  of  an  oligarchy  masked  in  the  language  of  a 
democracy — and  therefore  the  noble  lord,  whatever  office  he 
may  fill,  will  always  be  a  very  considerable  man. 

Let  me,  then,  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  a  great 
event  in  the  career  of  the  noble  lord — the  key-note  of  the 
transactions  which  occurred  when  the  noble  lord  was  chief  of 
the  diplomacy  of  the  country.  The  noble  lord  was  Secretary 
of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  during  a  brief  period  in  the  year 
1853 — two  or  three  months — but  though  the  period  was  brief, 
the  most  important  communications  which  have  ever  been 
made  to  this  country,  at  any  period  of  its  history,  were  made 
when  the  noble  lord  was  Secretary  of  State.  Upon  the  noble 
lord  fell  the  responsibility  of  deciding  the  course  of  England 
when  vast  events  were  near  us,  when  a  dark  destiny  was  im- 
pending over  Europe,  and  when  the  conduct  of  the  English 
ministry  might  have  averted  that  fate  and  the  consequences  of 
a  great  conflict.  A  whisper  was  heard,  a  rumour  was  spread, 
that  secret  communications  !  of  a  very  different  character  from 
those  which  had  been  laid  upon  the  table  of  this  House,  had 
taken  place  between  the  Court  of  St.  Petersburg  and  the  Eng- 
lish Government.  They  were  denied,  not  by  the  Government, 
but  by  those  who  seemed  to  have  authority  to  deny  them.  I 
extorted  myself  from  the  noble  lord  the  Secretary  of  State  the 
admission  that  those  documents  existed.  Such  was  the  feeling 
of  Parliament  and  of  the  country — though,  I  admit,  I  cannot 
justify  the  conduct  of  any  Government  in  producing  those 
papers — they  were  produced,  they  are  on  the  table,  they  are 

1  I.e,  the  proposal  of  the  Czar  to  Sir  George  Hamilton  Seymour  that  England 
should  agree  to  a  partition  of  Turkey,  taking  Egypt  for  herself. 


58  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACOXSFIELD. 

among  the  most  precious  records  of  the  history  of  the  age ; 
and  there  we  learnt,  from  the  lips  as  it  were  of  the  late  Em- 
peror of  Eussia  himself,  his  resolution  to  accomplish  the  parti- 
tion of  Turkey;  and  that  partition  was  to  be  accomplished 
mainly  by  assuming  rights  of  a  protectorate  over  the  Christian 
subjects  of  the  Porte  which  in  the  last  despatch  of  the  Eus- 
sian  minister  we  hear,  as  a  protectorate,  never  existed. 

What  was  the  conduct  of  the  noble  lord  the  chief  of  the 
diplomacy  of  England  under  these  circumstances  ?  Observe  well 
this  important  phase  of  those  transactions,  and  you  will  find,  as 
I  will  show  you,  the  key-note  of  disaster ;  you  will  find  it  the 
cause  of  the  failure  of  the  recent  negotiations,  and  the  probable 
cause  of  great  difficulties  and  dangers  to  this  country.  The 
noble  lord,  after  ample  time,  wrote  a  secret  and  confidential 
despatch  to  Sir  George  Hamilton  Seymour  upon  the  propositions 
of  the  Emperor  of  Eussia  and  upon  the  general  tenor  of  the  confi- 
dential communications  which  were  then  taking  place.  I  must 
invite  the  attention  of  the  First  Minister,  who  admires  the 
ability  of  his  colleague  so  much,  to  these  remarks.  The  noble 
lord  (Lord  John  Eussell)  wrote  a  despatch  which  was  much 
admired  when  it  first  appeared.  The  despatch  was  partly  his- 
torical and  partly  diplomatic.  The  noble  lord  was  of  opinion 
that  the  Sultan  was  not  in  the  same  state  as  the  Spanish  King 
in  the  time  of  Louis  XIV.,  or  the  last  of  the  Medici.  Certainly 
those  sovereigns  had  no  children,  and  the  Sultan  has  as  many 
wives  as  the  wisest  monarch,  and  so  many  children  that  he  is 
obliged  to  marry  them  to  his  ministers.  With  all  this  historical 
display,  which,  while  unaccompanied  by  anything  injurious, 
reflects  great  honour  upon  the  country  producing  such  a  states- 
man, the  noble  lord  proceeded — 

4  To  these  cautions  Her  Majesty's  Government  wish  to  add 
that  in  their  view  it  is  essential  that  the  Sultan  should  be 
advised  to  treat  his  Christian  subjects  in  conformity  with  the 
principles  of  equity  and  religious  freedom  which  prevail  gene- 
rally among  the  enlightened  nations  of  Europe.  The  more  the 
Turkish  Government  adopts  the  rules  of  impartial  law  and 
equal  administration,  the  less  will  the  Emperor  of  Eussia  find 
it  necessary  to  apply  that  exceptional  protection  which  His 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAR,   MAY   1855.  59 

Imperial  Majesty  has  found  so  burdensome  and  inconvenient, 
though  no  doubt  prescribed  by  duty,  and  sanctioned  by  treaty/ 

Not  to  taunt  the  noble  lord  with  an  error  (though  probably 
the  most  gross  error  ever  made  by  a  Secretary  of  State) ;  not  to 
twit  the  noble  lord  with  a  fatal  admission  (for  everyone  gets 
into  a  scrape  sometimes,  and  we  who  are  a  popular  assembly 
know  that  duties  press  so  upon  public  men,  which  they  can 
only  half  fulfil,  that  all  sometimes  make  mistakes  ;  though  a 
Secretary  of  State  who  in  a  secret  and  confidential  despatch 
makes  a  mistake  is  less  entitled  to  the  charity  of  men  than 
mere  individuals),  I  will  remind  the  House  that  I  called 
attention,  when  that  despatch  was  so  much  admired,  to  this 
fatal  admission.  The  noble  lord  never  made  the  slightest 
answer.  He  could  not  make  any  answer,  and  I  should  never 
have  brought  it  forward  again  but  for  the  remarkable  reason  I 
am  about  to  place  before  the  House,  and  which  the  House  will 
in  a  moment  see  is  exercising  a  fatal  influence  on  this  country. 

The  mistake  of  the  noble  lord  was  to  acknowledge  the  pro- 
tectorate of  Eussia  over  the  Christian  subjects  of  the  Porte  which 
Count  Nesselrode  has  just  told  us  does  not  exist ;  and,  not  only 
to  acknowledge,  but  to  tell  us  'its  exercise  is  prescribed  by  duty 
and  sanctioned  by  treaty.'  When  the  noble  lord  told  the 
House  some  time  ago  that  everybody  knew  what  the  *  Four 
Points  '  were,  I  took  an  opportunity  of  saying,  that  I,  for  one, 
did  not  know  what  the  '  Four  Points  '  were.  Up  to  the  moment 
the  protocols  were  placed  on  the  table,  we  never  had  a  formal 
and  authentic  statement  of  what  the  *  Four  Points '  were ;  but 
at  last  the  papers  were  laid  upon  the  table,  and  the  '  Four 
Points '  are  now  in  the  hands  of  the  Parliament  of  England, 
of  those  honourable  gentlemen  who  will  sanction  or  oppose  the 
resolution  which  I  am  about  to  submit.  Here  we  have  at  last 
the  '  Four  Points,'  and  I  beg  you  to  turn  to  the  fourth  point, 
bearing  in  mind  the  noble  lord's  famous  historical  despatch, 
and  the  interpretation  which  he  put  upon  the  treaties  of 
Kainardji  and  others,  acknowledging  a  protectorate  and  declaring 
its  exercise  to  be  not  only  legal  but  obligatory.  What  do 
we  see  in  the  fourth  article  of  the  Conference  of  Vienna  ?  Re- 
member this  article  has  been  produced  by  the  prolonged 


60  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

thought,  the  deep  meditation,  the  unrivalled  learning,  of  the 
greatest  statesmen  of  Europe.  Here  is  the  summary  of  what 
they  believe  to  be  the  cause  of  the  most  important  event  of 
the  present  day. 

'Kussia  in  renouncing  the  pretension  to  take  under  an 
official  protectorate  the  Christian  subjects  of  the  Sultan  of  the 
Oriental  ritual,  equally  renounces,  as  a  natural  consequence, 
the  revival  of  any  of  the  articles  of  her  former  treaties,  and 
especially  of  the  treaty  of  Koutchouk  Kainardji,  the  erroneous 
interpretation  of  which  has  been  the  principal  cause  of  the 
present  war.' 

By  whom  was  that  erroneous  interpretation  made  ?  Was  it  by 
the  noble  lord,  or  by  the  Emperor  of  Kussia  ?  If  by  the  Em- 
peror of  Eussia,  it  was  assented  to  by  the  minister  of  England. 
What  right  have  we  to  interfere  in  this  quarrel  when  the 
united  wisdom  of  all  these  statesmen  has  found  out  that  l  the 
erroneous  interpretation  of  the  treaty  of  Kainardji  has  been 
the  principal  cause  of  the  war ' — and  the  erroneous  interpreter 
is  sitting  before  me.  And  the  very  statesman  who  lashed  on 
the  passions  of  this  country  to  war,  when  we  had  a  springtide 
of  national  feeling  in  our  favour  which  might  have  been  directed 
to  great  ends,  is  sent  by  the  First  Minister  as  plenipotentiary 
of  peace  to  the  Conference  of  Vienna  ?  But  we  are  only  at  the 
commencement  of  the  extraordinary  mistakes,  the  fatal  ad- 
missions, the  disgraceful  demeanour  of  that  noble  lord  who 
displayed,  we  are  told,  consummate  ability,  though  unsuccessful. 
Why  did  you  not  give  us  an  opportunity  of  examining  the 
conduct  of  your  unsuccessful  Plenipotentiary  ?  Why  did  you 
not  move  an  Address  to  the  Crown,  congratulating  Her  Majesty 
on  the  admirable  manner  in  which  the  negotiations  have  been 
carried  on,  while  at  the  same  time  expressing  a  determination 
to  prosecute  the  war  with  vigour  ?  I  am  not  at  all  surprised 
that  you  have  avoided  discussion.  There  have  been  before  now 
unsuccessful  negotiations  and  unsuccessful  negotiators ;  but  it 
is  equally  true  that  ministers  have  been  overthrown  and 
branded  by  the  verdict  of  an  indignant  Parliament  for  having 
acted  and  for  having  spoken  in  a  manner  similar  to  that  which 
has  been  done  and  said  by  the  noble  lord.  The  right  honour- 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAR,   MAY   1855.  61 

able  gentleman  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  laughs :  it  is 
not  the  first  time  I  have  been  met  with  a  laugh  by  the  right 
honourable  gentleman.  He  is  a  merry  soul ;  but  if  he  can 
answer  what  I  am  saying,  let  him  do  so.  The  noble  lord  arrived 
at  Vienna  early  in  March,  and  the  first  Conference,  I  think,  was 
held  on  March  15.  At  first  everything  went  on  swimmingly, 
and  subjects  were  discussed  and  settled  about  which  in  reality 
no  difference  of  opinion  existed,  and  then  an  admirable  oppor- 
tunity was  afforded  to  the  Eussian  envoys  of  making  concilia- 
tory sacrifices. 

The  Conference  went  on  from  March  15  to  the  26th  of  that 
month,  and  then  commenced  the  real  business.  Five  or  six 
meetings  of  the  Conference  had  taken  place,  at  which,  as  I 
have  said,  nothing  of  the  slightest  importance  was  settled — 
in  fact,  all  that  was  settled  might  just  as  well  have  been 
settled  by  the  post.  There  was  no  controversy  about  the  first 
or  second  point,  but  at  last,  on  March  26,  the  real  difficulty 
arose ;  then  was  made  apparent  the  real  reason  why  the  noble 
lord  was  sent  to  take  part  in  the  Conferences.  Then  came 
the  discussion  of  the  third  point,  and  then  it  was  that  the 
noble  lord  was  expected,  among  others,  to  obtain  the  admis- 
sion of  the  Turkish  empire  into  the  European  confederation, 
and  to  decide  upon  the  manner  in  which  the  preponderance  of 
Eussia  in  the  Black  Sea  should  cease  to  exist.  Then  com- 
menced the  real  business  of  the  Conference ;  but  the  noble  lord 
before  he  touched  upon  the  real  point — remembering  the  mis- 
sion of  his  life  as  much  as  his  mission  to  Vienna — threw  in 
a  word  with  regard  to  representative  Government  for  the 
Principalities,  and,  1  believe,  even  hinted  at  something  like  a 
new  Eeform  Bill  for  these  countries.  Prince  Gortschakoff  smiled, 
and  naturally  replied  that  that  was  not  exactly  the  point  that 
they  had  met  to  settle  ;  and  he  hinted  that  a  new  Eeform  Bill 
for  the  Danubian  Principalities  might  be  postponed,  as  a  new 
Eeform  Bill  for  a  more  important  place  had  been  postponed, 
and  that  it  might  be  as  well  to  get  on  a  little  with  the  real 
business  of  the  meeting.  The  noble  lord  then  rose  and  made 
the  following  unprecedented  declaration,  in  reference  to  a  very 
commonplace  statement  of  Prince  Gortschakoff  at  the  commence- 


62  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ment  of  negotiations,  and  which  was  not  referred  to  while 
the  Conference  was  engaged  on  those  articles  which  produced 
no  controversy : — 

4  Lord  John  Eussell,  recalling  the  declaration  made  by  Prince 
Gortschakoff  at  the  opening  of  negotiations,  that  he  would 
consent  to  no  condition  incompatible  with  the  honour  of  Kussia, 
maintained  that,  in  the  eyes  of  England  and  of  her  allies,  the 
best  and  only  admissible  conditions  of  peace  would  be  those 
which,  being  the  most  in  harmony  with  the  honour  of  Kussia, 
should  at  the  same  time  be  sufficient  for  the  security  of  Europe 
and  for  preventing  a  return  of  complications  such  as  that  the 
settlement  of  which  is  now  in  question.' 

Let  us  see  to  what  that  admission  led.     The  noble  lord 
states   that,  in  the  eyes  of  Europe  and  the  allies,  the  only 
admissible   conditions  of  peace  were  those  most  in  harmony 
with  the  honour  of  Kussia.     What,  I  want  to  know,  had  the 
noble  lord  to  do  with  the  honour  of  Russia  ?     I  apprehend  that 
the  noble  lord  was  not  sent  to  Vienna  to  take  care  of  the 
honour  of  Kussia.     No,  Sir,  the  noble  lord  was  sent  to  Vienna 
to  take  care  of  the  honour  of  England.     What  happened  under 
these   circumstances  ?     At  that   time — I  am   stating  what  I 
admit  does  not  appear  formally  on  the  protocols,  but  I  am 
stating  what  no  well-informed  person  will  for  one  moment  con- 
tradict, and  which  is  matter  of  general  notoriety — at  that  time 
there  did  exist  an  understanding  to  which  Kussia  was  not,  I 
believe,  bound  by  any  formal  instrument,  but  still  an  under- 
standing did  exist,  that  the  Russian  plenipotentiary,  Prince 
Grortschakoff,  and  M.  de  Titoff,  should  take  the  initiative,  and 
offer  a  plan  which  might  lead  to  a  satisfactory  solution  of  the 
question  how  the  preponderance  of  the  power  of  Russia  in  the 
Black  Sea  might  be  made  to  cease.     I  do  not  think  that  the 
noble  lord  will  deny  that,  although  the  Russian  ministers  were 
not  bound  by  the  understanding,  still  their  feeling  had  been 
felt  upon  the  subject,  and  it  was  clearly  understood  that  they 
should  take  the  initiative  and  propose  some  plan  which  they 
believed  would  afford  a  satisfactory  solution  to  the  difficulty — 
the  preponderance  of  Russia  in  the  Black  Sea. 

No  sooner,  however,  had  the  noble  lord  made  the  declara- 


PEOSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1865.  63 

tion  that,  in  the  eyes  of  Europe  and  the  allies,  the  best  and, 
indeed,  only  admissible  terms  of  peace  were  *  those  which  should 
be  most  in  harmony  with  the  honour  and  dignity  of  Kussia,' 
than — 

*  Prince  Gortschakoff,  while  congratulating  himself  on  the 
conciliatory   disposition    with   which    the  question  had    been 
hitherto  touched  upon  in  the  Conference,  said  that  he  was  pre- 
pared to  discuss  the  means  of  execution  which   should  be  pro- 
posed by  the  plenipotentiaries,  and  that  he  did  not  consider 
himself  in  a  position  in  which  he  ought  to  take   the  initiative 
on  this  subject.' 

(Lord  J.  Kussell :  As  Count  Buol  had  suggested. 

Mr.  Disraeli :  I  did  not  say  *  as  the  noble  lord  had  sugges- 
ted.' I  would  not  misrepresent  the  noble  lord,  but  anyone  who 
thinks  the  correction  of  the  noble  lord  makes  any  difference  in 
my  argument  is  entirely  mistaken.) 

*  As  Count  Buol  had  suggested.     Appreciating  at  the  same 
time  the  sentiments  of  courtesy  and  conciliation  which,  accord- 
ing to  the  unanimous  language  he  had  just  heard,  seemed  to 
have  inspired  this  proposition,  he  declared  himself  ready  to  take 
it  ad  referendum,  reserving  to  himself  to  make  known  to  the 
Conference  the  answer  which  he  should  receive  from  his  Court.' 

M.  de  Titoff  spoke  to  a  similar  purport.  Aarif  Effendi,  how- 
ever, who  appears  to  have  been  the  only  man  of  sense  present — 

'  While  declaring  that  he  was  not  authorised  to  take  the 
initiative  in  propositions  relating  to  the  third  point,  expressed 
a  hope  that  his  Government  would  accede  to  those  which  the 
plenipotentiaries  of  France  and  of  Great  Britain  have  reserved 
to  themselves  to  make  on  this  subject.' 

Instead  of  taking  the  initiative,  Prince  Gortschakoff  imme- 
diately referred  to  his  Court,  using  those  bland  expressions 
which,  of  course,  induced  the  minister  of  England  and  the  other 
ministers  to  believe  that  he  was  only  going  to  refer  to  his 
Court  for  fresh  powers  to  make  those  proposals  which  it  was 
expected  he  would  make.  Well,  Sir,  delay  after  delay  occurred, 
and  it  was  not  until  April  17 — the  admission  of  the  noble  lord 
having  been  made  on  March  26  that,  in  the  eyes  of  the  allies, 
the  best  and  only  admissible  conditions  of  peace  were  those 


64  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

most  in  harmony  with  the  honour  of  Eussia — that  Prince  Gort- 
schakoff  received  his  instructions  from  St.  Petersburg.  What 
were  these  instructions,  or  rather  what  was  the  result  of  them  ? 
On  April  17,  Prince  Gortschakoff  at  the  Conference  of  that  date 
said : — 

'  That  his  Court,  though  fully  appreciating  the  reasons  which 
had  prompted  the  members  of  the  conference  to  surrender  to 
the  cabinet  of  St.  Petersburg  the  initiative  of  the  proposals 
respecting  the  third  point,  did  not  feel  it  incumbent  on  itself 
to  take  the  initiative  which  had  been  offered  to  it — ' 

And  must  now  beg  the  allies  to  take  the  initiative,  feeling 
of  course  confident  that  what  the  allies  had  laid  down  by  the 
mouth  of  the  noble  lord,  '  that  the  best  and  only  admissible 
conditions  of  peace  would  be  those  which  were  in  harmony  with 
the  honour  of  Eussia,'  must  be  conceived  in  a  spirit  much  more 
agreeable  to  Eussia  than  Eussia  herself  could  possibly  devise. 
Is  there  a  doubt  about  it  ?  To  prove  that  such  was  the  case, 
let  me  refer  to  the  recent  circular  note  of  Count  Nesselrode, 
and  let  me  see  how  that  most  experienced  of  living  statesmen 
treats  this  subject.  That  statesman  has  produced  a  diplomatic 
paper  of  great  ability,  in  which  he  takes  a  survey  of  the  transac- 
tions at  the  Vienna  Conference  and  examines  with  critical  eye 
the  conduct  of  European  statesmen  :  and  on  whose  conduct  did 
he  fix  ?  Upon  that  of  the  English  minister,  and  more  espe- 
cially upon  the  fatal  admission  of  March  26.  Count  Nesselrode 
refers  to  what  he  terms  la  definition  fort  remarquable  of  the 
noble  lord  which  was  to  serve  as  a  solution  of  the  problem,  and 
in  that  circular  note  he  says :  — 

1  Lord  John  Eussell,  recalling  the  declaration  made  at  the 
opening  of  the  negotiation  by  Prince  GortschakofF,  that  he 
would  consent  to  no  condition  incompatible  with  the  honour  of 
Eussia,  maintained  that,  in  the  eyes  of  England  and  her  allies, 
the  best  and  only  admissible  conditions  of  peace  would  be  those 
which,  being  the  most  in  harmony  with  the  honour  of  Eussia, 
should  at  the  same  time  be  sufficient  for  the  security  of  Europe, 
and  for  preventing  a  return  of  complications  such  as  that  the  set- 
tlement of  which  is  now  in  question.  After  this  declaration,  made 
formally  in  the  Conference  of  March  26,  Lord  John  Eussell, 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAK,   MAY   1855.  65 

cannot  be  surprised  that  the  propositions  made  on  April  19 
were  not  judged  by  the  Imperial  cabinet  as  "  the  best  and  only 
admissible  ones,"  to  quote  the  English  plenipotentiary.' 

And  what  were  the  propositions  made  by  the  noble  lord  ? 
I  have  already  told  the  House  of  great  feats  of  history  and 
diplomacy  in  connection  with  that  celebrated  despatch  to  which 
I  have  already  referred,  and  here  the  noble  lord  fully  sustains 
the  character  and  position  he  had  exhibited  in  connection  with 
that  famous  despatch.  At  the  commencement  of  the  proceedings 
he  made  as  fatal  an  omission  as  he  had  made  in  his  despatch 
respecting  the  protectorate,  and  the  noble  lord  supported  his 
position  by  an  historical  illustration  equally  infelicitous  but 
much  more  insulting.  Here  is  the  noble  lord  uselessly  going 
out  of  his  way  to  announce  that  the  best  and  only  possible  con- 
ditions of  peace  in  the  opinion  of  England  were  those  most 
compatible  with  the  honour  of  Kussia  and  at  the  same  time 
sufficient  for  the  security  of  Europe.  Having  made  that  ad- 
mission, the  noble  lord  proceeds  on  April  17  to  do — what? 
To  propose  the  most  humiliating  condition  that  could  be  made 
to  any  Grovernment,  and  that  humiliating  condition  he  sup- 
ported by  a  precedent  which  appears  to  me  the  most  unhappy 
that  could  possibly  have  been  brought  forward.  The  noble 
lord  appeals  to  the  treaty  of  Utrecht  and  the  destruction  of  the 
fortifications  of  Dunkirk.  Now,  under  what  circumstances  were 
the  treaty  of  Utrecht  and  the  negotiations  for  the  destruction 
of  the  fortifications  of  Dunkirk  made  ?  After  a  series  of  splendid 
victories  achieved  by  the  arms  of  Marlborough  and  Eugene  ; 
after  a  series  of  the  most  humiliating  reverses  on  the  part  of  a 
once  great  king ;  at  the  end  of  a  long  reign,  when  her  resources 
were  exhausted,  France — high-spirited  France — submitted  to 
the  greatest  humiliation  that  her  history  records.  And  this  is 
the  precedent  which  is  produced  by  the  noble  lord  who  com 
mences  with  an  admission  which  makes  the  honour  of  Eussia 
an  essential  qualification  in  any  condition  of  peace  that  may  be 
made.  I  ask  again,  who  made  the  noble  lord  the  judge  of  the 
honour  of  Kussia  ?  What  business  had  he  to  think  of  the 
honour  of  Eussia  ?  The  noble  lord  had  to  think  of  the  honour 
and  interests  of  his  own  country ;  and  surely  Prince  Gortscha- 

VOL.   II.  F 


66  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

koff  and  M.  de  Titoff  were  capable  enough  of  attending  to  the 
honour  of  Eussia.  The  admission  made  by  the  noble  lord  was 
the  real  cause  of  these  Conferences  being  broken  off.  That  I 
consider  a  very  minor  evil,  according  to  my  view  of  the  nature 
and  character  of  the  conferences  ;  but  that  admission  was  such 
as  may  embarrass  this  country  and  involve  it  in  a  position 
from  which  it  will  require  all  the  patriotism  of  this  House  and 
the  high  spirit  of  this  country  to  extricate  it.  The  noble  lord 
himself  confessed  that  the  admission  he  had  made  was  the  cause 
of  the  rupture  of  the  negotiations.  That  is  actually  the  ad- 
mission of  the  noble  lord  at  the  time  when  he  professes  his  regret 
at  Russia  not  taking  the  initiative.  On  April  17,  after  the 
extraordinary  illustration  to  which  I  have  referred  had  been 
repudiated  by  Prince  Grortschakoff,  he  himself  adds  : — 

'  Since  the  Court  of  Russia  has  declined,  the  chances  of 
success  attending  the  negotiations  for  peace  appeared  in  his 
eyes  much  diminished.' 

It  was  therefore  in  consequence  of  the  noble  lord's  conduct, 
by  his  own  avowal,  that  the  chances  of  peace  were  much  dimin- 
ished. I  say,  therefore,  that  the  noble  lord  has  placed  the  pos- 
sibility of  peace  by  negotiation  almost  out  of  the  question  by 
his  conduct  at  the  Conferences  at  Vienna.  The  noble  lord 
allowed  the  Conference  for  a  considerable  period  to  waste  its 
energies  in  settling  matters  which  required  no  arrangement ; 
and  when  Russia  had  the  appearance  of  conciliating  public 
opinion  by  apparently  considerable  concessions  about  nothing 
at  all — when  he  had  placed  Russia  in  a  position  to  obtain  the 
favourable  opinion  of  the  Congress — the  noble  lord  then  came 
to  the  point  and  so  managed  the  Conference  that  it  appears 
that,  because  Russia  would  not  consent  to  one  single  point,  we 
had  in  fact  been  deprived  of  that  peace  which  otherwise 
might  have  been  attained.  What  a  handle  does  the  noble 
lord  give  to  any  Peace  Society  or  to  any  doubtful  ally  when  he 
allows  Russia  to  say,  '  Here  are  twenty  points  which  we  concede, 
and  the  only  one  point  which  we  insisted  on  is  not  conceded  by 
England,  so  that  the  horrors  of  war  are  in  consequence  to  con- 
tinue.' And  what  is  that  one  point  ?  The  English  minister 
proposes  that  Russia  shall  consent  to  that  which  must  in  his 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1855.  67 

opinion  be  a  most  humiliating  act,  because  he  illustrates  it  by 
a  reference  to  the  most  humiliating  occurrence  in  the  history 
of  France.  Is  the  noble  lord  justified  in  visiting  Kussia  with 
this  humiliation  after  he  has  laid  it  down  as  a  principle  of 
negotiation  that  she  '  is  not  to  be  humiliated '  ?  I  say,  then, 
that  the  third  point,  according  to  all  rules  of  diplomacy,  inas- 
much as  it  contained  the  real  business  of  the  question,  ought 
to  have  been  taken  first.  If  the  negotiators  had  met  and  said, 
*  We  all  know  that  the  difficulty  is  in  the  third  point ;  let  us 
solve  that  difficulty,  and  if  we  solve  it,  all  the  rest  is  plain 
sailing,'  that  would  have  been  a  wise  and  intelligible  proceed- 
ing. But  you  carried  on  your  negotiations  day  after  day  with 
dissimulating  courtesy,  and  because  you  put  off  to  the  last  the 
real  business,  that  dissimulating  courtesy  becomes  a  source  of 
increased  irritation. 

Under  these  circumstances  I  cannot  look  at  the  conduct  of 
the  noble  lord  as  Her  Majesty's  plenipotentiary  at  Vienna  with 
that  satisfaction  with  which  it  has  been  spoken  of  by  the  First 
Minister.  I  think  I  have  shown  to  the  House  some  reason  to 
hesitate  before  they  agree  that  the  noble  lord  has  shown  great 
ability  in  these  negotiations.  I  think  the  noble  lord,  instead 
of  showing  great  ability  in  the  conduct  of  these  negotiations, 
has  committed  every  blunder  which  a  negotiator  could  possibly 
accomplish.  I  think  he  made  fatal  admissions  at  the  commence- 
ment, and  that  he  had  recourse  to  dangerous  illustrations  to 
support  his  position.  I  think  he  dealt  with  the  wrong  part  of 
his  material  first,  and  that  he  has  so  managed  the  really  im- 
portant element  that,  so  far  as  negotiation  is  concerned,  it  is 
my  solemn  opinion  diplomacy  can  no  longer  solve  the  knot. 
The  noble  lord  has  proceeded  in  these  Conferences  at  Vienna  in 
the  same  manner  in  which  he  proceeded  as  Secretary  of  State 
for  Foreign  Affairs  with  reference  to  the  confidential  communi- 
cations of  Kussia.  He  met  them  by  a  diplomatic  and  historical 
move  conjoined ;  and,  guided  by  history,  he  has  made  a  diplo- 
matic mistake. 

Sir,  at  last  the  protocols  so  anxiously  looked  for  and  so  long 
sought  were  laid  upon  the  table.  The  First  Minister  declined 
to  address  the  Queen.  We  read  those  protocols  ;  and  the  lan- 

F   2 


68  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

guage  of  the  plenipotentiary  seemed  to  be  as  ambiguous  as  his 
conduct  was  uncertain  in  the  conduct  of  the  negotiations,  for 
exactly  opposite  conclusions  were  drawn  by  different  parties  in 
the  House.  The  member  for  Manchester  says  the  negotiations 
authorised  peace  ;  this  is  also  the  opinion  of  the  member  for 
Carlisle  and  his  friends.  Another  party  thinks  they  necessarily 
conclude  in  war.  We  are  therefore  extremely  anxious  to  obtain 
the  opinion  of  the  ministry  upon  the  question,  so  that  the 
country,  in  a  state  of  great  perplexity  and  some  discontent,  may 
be  guided  in  their  opinion  by  Her  Majesty's  Government.  What 
is  the  position  of  the  country  ?  Is  there  to  be  peace,  or  is  there 
to  be  war  ?  Do  you  wish  that  there  should  be  peace,  or  that 
there  should  be  war  ?  On  what  conditions  do  you  wish  to  have 
peace  ?  In  what  spirit  are  you  going  to  carry  on  war  ?  We 
do  not  ask  the  noble  lord  to  let  us  know  the  precise  and  actual 
conditions  on  which  peace  ought  to  be  obtained,  as  the  noble 
lord  the  other  night,  with  his  usual  happy  power  of  perversion, 
seemed  to  represent ;  no  man  is  so  silly  as  to  entertain  such  an 
idea.  We  know  well  that  we  must  trust  to  the  discretion  of  the 
Government  in  such  matters,  and  especially  as  we  are  connected 
with  an  ally  whom  we  love  and  respect.  But  what  we  want 
from  Her  Majesty's  ministers  is  some  general,  though  explicit, 
statement  as  to  our  position ;  and  it  is  my  object  to-night  to 
obtain  it. 

It  is  my  object  to  do  more  than  that :  it  is  my  object  to  show 
what  is  the  cause  of  this  perplexity ;  to  show  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  how  ambiguous  has  been  their  language,  and  how 
much  more  ambiguous  has  been  the  conduct  of  their  nego- 
tiations, in  first  stating  the  honour  of  Eussia  to  be  an  element 
of  the  conditions  of  peace  and  then  proposing  conditions  of 
peace  which  the  strongest  advocates  of  war  could  not  suppose 
in  the  present  state  of  affairs  Russia  would  accept.  Is  not  that 
ambiguity  of  language  and  uncertainty  of  conduct  ?  If  the 
noble  lord  was  sincere  when  he  said  that,  above  all,  the  honour 
of  Russia  was  to  be  one  of  the  principal  elements  of  the  con- 
ditions of  peace,  his  language  in  my  opinion  was  feeble  and 
incautious.  If  the  noble  lord  was  not  sincere,  and  did  not 
mean  what  he  said,  then  I  think  his  language  is  liable  to  the 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAR,  MAY   1855.  69 

charge  implicitly  made  against  it  by  Count  Nesselrode — that  of 
duplicity.  The  noble  lord  must  choose  between  those  two 
qualities. 

Well,  the  protocols  being  here,  the  First  Minister  of  the 
Crown  not  fulfilling  his  duty  by  moving  an  Address  to  the 
Sovereign  in  respect  to  them,  and  a  right  honourable  gentle- 
man, who  attempts  to  do  that,  giving  notice  of  a  motion  which 
is  suppressed,  we,  the  members  of  this  House,  endeavour  to 
extract  some  opinion  from  the  Government;  and  what  is  the 
answer  we  receive  ?  I  am  told  that  there  have  been  no  ambi- 
guity of  language  and  no  uncertainty  of  conduct.  Now,  this  is 
a  grave  question,  and  we  must  fully  and  completely  enter  into  it. 
Therefore,  let  me  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  the  words  of 
the  First  Minister  of  the  Crown  recently  delivered.  He  said  : — 

*  With   respect  to  the   question  whether  negotiations  are 
entirely  broken  off,  my  answer  must  be  the  same  as  I  gave  on 
a  former  evening — namely,  that  the  elements  of  Conference  per- 
manently exist  at  Vienna,  there  being  in  that  capital  represen- 
tatives of  the  British,  French,  Russian,  Turkish,  and  of  course 
Austrian  Governments.     If,  therefore,  at  any  time  any  proposi- 
tion should  be  made  by  Russia,  or  by  Austria  on  behalf  of 
Russia,  which  might  appear  to  offer  a  fair  prospect  of  negotia- 
tions being  prosecuted  to  a  successful  issue,  there  are  means 
and  elements  in  Vienna  for  resuming  the  negotiations.' 

Is  it  not  quite  clear  that  there  are  in  every  capital  in  Europe 
almost,  the  representatives  of  the  British,  French,  Turkish, 
Russian  and  Austrian  Governments  ?  And  therefore,  if  at  any 
time,  propositions  should  be  contemplated,  they  could  be  made 
in  any  European  capital.  But  there  is  no  proof  whatever  of  any 
special  negotiations  going  on,  or  of  any  reason  why  we  should  not 
investigate  the  conduct  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  and  give 
our  opinion  upon  these  records  of  our  unsuccessful  plenipoten- 
tiary. What  was  the  language  used  in  another  place  by  another 
minister  (Lord  Granville)  on  May  22  ?  That  noble  lord  said : — 

*  With  regard  to  the  question  which  has  been  put  by  the 
noble  and  learned  lord,  my  noble  friend  (Earl  Grey),  as  a  spec- 
tator of  the   scene  which  has  been  described  as  having  taken 
place  in  the  other  House,  would  be  able  to  give  almost  as  ample 


70  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

an  answer  as  I  can  give  myself.  With  regard  to  the  state  of 
negotiations  at  Vienna,  it  is  not  true  as  has  been  stated,  that 
they  have  been  finally  closed.  The  Government  are  ready  to 
receive  any  propositions  that  may  lead  to  a  safe  and  honourable 
peace,  and  they  also  leave  themselves  open  to  decline  any  terms 
which  may  lead  to  a  contrary  result.  Certainly  the  Conferences 
are  not  closed,  and  under  the  circumstances  of  the  case  it  is 
for  the  noble  earl  himself  to  consider  what  course  he  ought  to 
adopt.' 

I  gave  my  comment  on  the  language  of  the  First  Minister 
about  a  week  ago,  and  I  will  now  communicate  to  the  House 
the  comment  of  Lord  Lyndhurst  on  the  language  of  Lord 
Granville,  for  the  purpose  of  showing  that  I  do  not  stand  alone 
in  the  opinion  that  the  language  of  the  Government  is  vague 
and  ambiguous.  Lord  Lyndhurst  said  : — 

'  The  noble  lord  says  the  negotiations  are  not  closed ;  but 
are  they  going  on  ?  They  may  remain  open  for  a  twelve- 
month. Have  any  propositions  been  made  which  are  still  under 
consideration,  or  have  they  been  rejected  ?  Is  there  any  pro- 
bability of  any  further  propositions  being  made,  and  if  so,  within 
what  time  ?  Or  have  the  Government  made  up  their  minds 
as  to  the  period  at  which  there  is  any  probability  of  the  Con- 
ferences being  concluded  ?  I  never  heard  anything  more 
vague.' 

Are  we,  then,  with  these  statements  made  in  this  and  the 
other  House  of  Parliament,  to  be  told  that  there  is  nothing 
vague,  uncertain,  or  ambiguous  in  the  language  and  conduct 
of  ministers  in  reference  to  the  great  question  of  peace  or  war  ? 
Let  me  now  recall  your  attention  to  a  statement  made  by  the 
noble  lord  opposite  (Lord  J.  Russell),  the  unsuccessful  negotiator, 
totally  contrary  to  everything  said  by  both  his  colleagues  in  the 
passages  I  have  just  quoted.  On  May  21  the  noble  lord  said  : — 

*  Certainly  my  opinion  is  that,  whether  the  propositions  lead 
to  peace  or  not — because  on  that  question  I  feel  myself  incom- 
petent to  give  an  opinion — the  Austrian  Government  will,  before 
the  Conferences  are  finally  closed,  make  some  proposition  to  the 
members  of  these  Conferences.  I  imagine  that  proposition  must 
have  one  of  two  results — either  it  will  be  rejected  by  one,  pej> 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1855.  71 

haps  by  both,  of  the  belligerent  Powers,  and  then  the  Confer- 
ences are  broken  off,  and  no  doubt  it  will  be  perfectly  competent 
for  any  member  of  Parliament  to  ask  this  House  to  declare  its 
opinion  of  the  negotiations ;  or  on  the  other  hand,  if  that  should 
not  be  the  case,  then  again  negotiations  will  be  resumed,  and 
there  will  be  a  greater  prospect  than  there  has  been  of  peace 
being  established.' 

That  is  a  totally  different  statement  from  the  statements 
made  by  the  First  Minister  and  by  Earl  Granville.  The  latter 
tells  you  that  there  are  representatives  of  the  four  Powers  in 
Vienna  (though,  as  I  told  you  before,  they  may  be  found  also 
in  other  capitals),  and  if  any  proposition  is  made,  it  will  be 
received ;  but  here  the  noble  lord  tells  us  most  positively  that 
the  Austrian  Government  has  some  other  proposition  to  make, 
and  that  it  is  expected  by  Her  Majesty's  Government.  The 
noble  lord  distinctly  stated  that  one  more  attempt  at  negoti- 
ation was  to  be  made  ;  which  is  quite  a  different  account  from 
that  given  by  the  First  Minister  and  by  Lord  Granville.  Well, 
is  this  the  case,  and  is  another  attempt  to  be  made  ?  Th.e 
inconsistencies  are  considerable.  Here  we  have  the  statement 
of  the  First  Minister  that  there  is  a  permanent  condition  of 
Congress,  and  then  we  hear  from  the  noble  lord  opposite  a 
statement  that  there  is  going  to  be  a  final  proposition,  and  then 
the  Conferences  are  to  be  closed.  Which  is  the  true  statement  ? 
Is  another  proposition  expected,  has  it  been  made,  and  what  are 
the  general  expectations  of  the  Government  as  to  its  character  ? 
But  this  is  not  all.  I  am  told  that  the  language  of  the  Govern- 
ment on  this  subject  is  not  ambiguous.  Why,  what  did  Lord 
Clarendon,  the  Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs,  say?  The  noble 
lord  opposite  having  returned  from  his  unsuccessful  mission, 
Lord  Clarendon  said  that  he  should  lay  before  Parliament  the 
official  papers  as  soon  as  possible,  and  went  on  to  say  that,  for 
his  part,  he  very  much  disapproved  Conferences  or  negotiations 
being  carried  on  where  there  was  no  real  business  to  conclude : 
that,  he  said,  was  the  present  state  of  things,  though  the 
Government  would  be  prepared  to  answer  any  distinct  proposi- 
tion on  the  part  of  Eussia.  That  was  a  very  proper  tone  to 
take,  but  it  was  totally  different  from  the  ambiguous  language 


72  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

held  by  other  ministers,  which  had  something  in  it  like  '  leaving 
the  door  open,'  which  I  do  not  understand.  I  am  against  this 
principle  of  '  leaving  the  door  open  ; '  I  say,  shut  the  door,  and 
let  those  who  want  to  come  in,  knock  at  the  door,  and  then  let 
us  endeavour  to  secure  a  safe  and  honourable  peace. 

Then,  Sir,  arrived  the  night  for  the  motion  of  the  member 
for  Manchester,  to  which  I  need  not  now  advert,  as  I  have 
before  alluded  to  it,  and  I  refer  to  it  only  to  notice  the  strange 
position  taken  up  by  the  First  Minister  of  the  Crown  on  that 
occasion.  That  noble  lord  told  us  that  he  was  not  going  to 
make  an  ignominious  peace  ;  and  that  the  man  who  would  do 
so  would  be  a  degraded  outcast.  I  admired  the  tone  of  the 
noble  lord.  '  The  captain  is  a  brave  man,'  but  we  want  some- 
thing more  than  the  assertion  of  the  noble  lord  as  to  whether 
he  is  going  to  make  an  ignominious  peace  or  not.  The  noble 
lord  can  advise  the  Crown  to  make  peace  without  first  asking 
this  House.  Let  us,  therefore,  be  well  acquainted  with  the  real 
character  of  his  policy  before  he  makes  peace,  and  let  us,  above 
all,  have  a  clear  and  explicit  explanation  of  the  real  position  of 
affairs.  There  is  a  sarcastic  note,  which  I  have  no  doubt  hon- 
ourable gentlemen  will  recollect  in  one  of  Mr.  (ribbon's  volumes 
in  which  he  quotes  an  Arabic  author  named  Abu-raaf,  who 
stated  that  he  was  witness  of  a  certain  marvellous  incident. 
But  who,  asks  Mr.  Gibbon,  will  be  witness  for  Abu-raaf?  The 
noble  lord  says  he  is  not  going  to  make  an  ignominious  peace. 
The  noble  lord  is  witness  for  himself,  but  who  will  be  witness 
for  the  noble  lord  ?  It  is  in  the  power  of  the  minister  to  advise 
the  Crown  to  make  peace  without  asking  the  opinion  of  Parlia- 
ment. Far  be  it  from  me  to  interfere  with  the  prerogative  oJ 
the  Crown  ;  but  what  other  safeguard  is  there,  when  Parliament 
has  adjourned,  against  an  unwise  exercise  of  that  prerogative 
but  a  discussion  in  Parliament  on  the  state  of  affairs  by  which 
we  may  become  well  acquainted  with  the  feelings  and  views  oi 
ministers  ? 

The  noble  lord  the  other  night  said  he  would  not  be  forced 
by  me  into  making  the  House  acquainted  with  the  confidential 
communications  which  were  passing  between  Her  Majesty's 
Government  and  our  allies ;  but  no  one  asks  the  noble  lord  on 


PROSECUTION   OF  WAR,   MAY   1855.  73 

what  terms  he  intends  to  make  peace.  It  would  be  the  height 
of  imprudence  for  any  man  to  ask  the  noble  lord  to  tell  us  the 
precise  terms  on  which  he  proposes  to  make  peace.  He  must 
act  upon  his  own  responsibility,  in  conjunction,  of  course,  with  our 
cherished  ally ;  but  that  is  no  reason  why  the  noble  lord  should 
take  a  course  which,  in  my  opinion,  must  lead  either  to  an 
ignominious  peace  or  a  lingering  and  fruitless  war.  That  is 
why  I  press  the  noble  lord.  We  have  a  right,  I  maintain,  with- 
ut  trenching  on  the  prerogative  of  the  Crown,  and  without  cir- 
urnscribing  the  Government's  liberty  of  action  along  with  our 
ally,  to  interfere  if  we  think  that  the  noble  lord  and  his  col- 
leagues are  pursuing  a  course  of  policy  which  must  either  lead  to 
the  conclusion  of  an  unsatisfactory  peace,  or  else,  which  I  think 
even  more  probable,  to  a  lingering,  fruitless  and  inglorious  war. 
The  noble  lord  told  me  the  other  night  that,  while  I  was 
objecting  to  the  negotiations  which  were  going  on,  I  seemed  to 
forget  altogether  the  fact  that  the  Government  at  the  same 
time  were  carrying  on  war — effectively  carrying  it  on  ;  and  he 
insisted  on  this  point  with  great  vigour,  apparently  very  much 
his  own  satisfaction.  Now,  there  I  join  issue  altogether  with 
he  noble  lord.  I  deny  that  you  can  carry  on  war  effectively 
with  this  chronic  state  of  negotiation. 

Here,  I  think,  lies  the  whole  fallacy  of  the  noble  lord's 
policy.  The  cause  of  all  the  ill- success  which  has  attended 
his  efforts,  and  of  the  discontent  and  dissatisfaction  which  is 
now  so  prevalent  in  the  country,  may  be  traced  to  the  principle 
on  which  the  noble  lord  and  the  Government  which  preceded 
him,  of  which  he  was  a  member,  have  acted — that  it  is  pos- 
sible at  the  same  time  to  make  war  and  to  negotiate  for  peace. 
It  is  pretty  apparent,  I  think,  that  the  noble  lord  has  a  false 
and  limited  idea  of  the  manner  of  making  war.  I  deny  that 
all  you  have  to  do  in  order  to  make  war  is  to  levy  taxes  and  to 
fit  out  expeditions.  There  is  something  else  equally  and  per- 
haps I  might  say,  though  it  may  seem  extravagant,  more  im- 
portant even  than  raising  money  and  recruiting  troops.  If  you 
want  to  carry  on  war  with  vigour  and  efficiency,  you  must  keep 
up  the  spirit  of  the  people.  Now,  Sir,  I  deny  that  you  can 
keep  up  the  spirit  of  the  nation  in  a  struggle  such  as  that 


74      SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

which  we  carried  on  with  Napoleon,  and  such  as  that  which  we 
may  have  to  carry  on  with  the  Emperor  of  Eussia,  if  you  are 
perpetually  impressing  on  the  country  that  peace  is  impending, 
and  if  you  are  perpetually  showing  the  people  that  the  point 
of  difference  between  ourselves  and  our  opponents  is,  after  all, 
comparatively  speaking,  of  a  petty  character.  Men  will  endure 
great  sacrifices  if  they  think  they  are  encountering  an  enemy 
of  colossal  power  and  resources.  A  nation  will  not  count  the 
sacrifices  which  it  makes,  if  it  supposes  that  it  is  engaged  in  a 
struggle  for  its  fame,  its  influence  and  its  existence.  But  when 
you  come  to  a  doubled  and  tripled  income-tax ;  when  you  come 
to  draw  men  away  from  their  homes  for  military  service  ;  when 
you  darken  the  hearths  of  England  with  ensanguined  calami- 
ties— when  you  do  all  this,  men  must  not  be  told  that  this  is 
merely  a  question  whether  the  Emperor  of  Russia  shall  have 
four  frigates  or  eight.  I  say,  the  principle  upon  which  the 
Government  of  the  noble  lord  and  the  Government  which  pre- 
ceded him  have  acted — that  of  keeping  up  a  state  of  war  and 
a  state  of  negotiation  simultaneously  in  action — is  a  fatal 
principle,  and  that  to  it  may  be  traced  the  real  cause  of  our 
disappointment  and  partly  of  our  disaster.  What  effect  has  it  had 
upon  your  militia  ?  Why,  I  remember  when  the  militia  was 
first  embodied  there  was  aroused,  even  in  the  humblest  cottage, 
that  military  spirit  which,  I  think,  is  natural  to  the  British 
people,  but  which  had  certainly  not  been  shown  for  half  a 
century.  But  what  is  the  feeling  now  ?  The  people  under- 
stand the  question  now ;  they  have  read  of  the  Conferences  of 
Vienna  ;  they  believe  that,  after  all,  the  differences  between 
the  parties  is  no  very  great  one — that  it  is  not  a  difference  for 
which  their  blood  should  be  lavished,  or  for  which  the  country 
should  appeal  to  their  patriotism.  Is  there  a  murmur  against 
increased  taxation  in  the  country  ?  Do  you  think  you  would 
ever  have  heard  a  murmur  against  increased  taxation  if,  at 
the  same  time  you  were  calling  for  these  increased  sacrifices, 
you  had  not  striven  to  impress  on  the  public  mind  that  you 
were  not  engaged  in  a  struggle  for  an  object  worthy  of  the 
sacrifice  ? 

Moreover,  if  you  would  carry  on  war  effectively,  it  is  neces- 


PKOSECUTION  OF  WAR,  MAY  1855.  75 

sary,  not  merely  to  keep  up  the  spirit  of  the  nation,  but  also  to 
keep  up  the  spirit  of  foreign  Powers.  You  may  rest  assured 
that  so  long  as  you  appeal  to  a  foreign  Power  as  a  mediator, 
that  foreign  Power  will  never  be  your  ally.  I  do  not  say  this 
with  any  want  of  respect  for  Austria.  I  think  that  the  Court 
of  Vienna  has  acted  throughout  these  transactions  with  wisdom, 
with  sagacity,  and  with  prudence,  and  I  am  not  surprised  that 
its  councils  have  been  guided  with  so  great  ability  when  I 
remember  that  the  minister  of  that  country  is  a  pupil  of  the 
greatest  statesman  that  this  age  has  produced.  The  genius  of 
Letternich  still  guides  the  country  which  he  has  more  than 
)nce  saved  ;  and  if  the  policy  of  that  great  statesman  be  pur- 
sued, I  am  persuaded  that  in  a  struggle  with  Eussia  he  is  not 
the  man,  nor  are  those  who  have  sat  at  his  feet  the  men,  to 
counsel  base  humiliation  for  that  Power.  If  in  1828  the  opinion 
of  Prince  Metternich  had  prevailed — if  the  policy  which  he 
recommended  had  been  adopted  by  the  English  Cabinet — this 
House  in  all  probability  would  not  at  this  moment  have  been 
called  upon  to  discuss  the  all-important  question  of  a  war  with 
Eussia.  Therefore,  it  was  with  no  disrespect  to  Austria  that  I 
lade  that  remark :  it  is  in  human  nature  that  the  moment  you 
ask  a  person  to  occupy  the  position  of  a  mediator,  he  will  neces- 
sarily not  fulfil  the  duties  of  an  ally. 

I  say,  then,  Sir,  that  so  far  as  the  general  policy  of  the 
noble  lord  is  concerned,  I  trace  its  want  of  energy  and  its  un- 
fortunate consequences — I  trace  the  discontent  and  the  dis- 
satisfaction which  are  prevalent  in  all  quarters — to  this  continued 
alliance  between  diplomacy  and  war.  As  a  general  principle  I 
think  that  alliance  objectionable ;  but  in  the  present  case  I 
think  I  can  show  the  House  that  there  are  peculiar  objections 
to  this  double  service  ;  that  there  are  peculiar  reasons  why,  if 
now  followed,  it  must,  I  believe  in  my  conscience,  lead  to  great 
public  disaster.  There  are  two  modes  in  which  you  may  make 
war  on  Eussia:  in  one  case  you  may  invade  her  provinces, 
despoil  her  of  her  territories,  push  her  back  to  the  north — re- 
construct, in  short,  the  map  of  Europe,  and  solve  the  knot  you 
are  now  trying  to  untie,  by  the  rudest  and  most  determined 
means.  If  there  were  a  young  minister,  full  of  genius  and 


76      SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD . 

energy,  backed  by  the  enthusiasm  of  a  people,  unembarrassed 
by  any  public  debt,  and  fortunate  enough  to  possess  as  a  col- 
league a  general  as  young,  as  energetic,  and  as  able  as  himself, 
I  do  not  say  that  that  is  not  a  career  which  I  should  recommend 
to  his  attention  ;  I  do  not  presume  to  predict  what  the  result  of 
such  a  struggle  would  be  ;  but  I  think  few  will  deny  that  the 
hair  of  the  youngest  member  present  might  grow  grey  before 
its  termination. 

There  is  another  mode  of  waging  war  with  Russia,  an  essen- 
tially protective  mode.  In  adopting  that  mode,  your  object 
would  be  to  protect  your  ally,  to  take  care  that  his  territory 
should  not  be  violated,  that  his  fortresses  should  be  secure,  and 
to  check  the  preponderance  of  Eussia  in  every  quarter,  not  so 
much  by  reducing  the  influence  of  Russia  as  by  increasing  the 
power  of  Turkey.  That  was  the  war  in  which,  from  your  de- 
claration at  its  commencement,  I  thought  we  had  embarked ;  but 
what  have  you  done  ?  Having  embarked  on  a  war  to  protect  the 
Turkish  Empire,  you  suddenly  resolved  to  invade  the  Russian 
dominions,  and  all  this  time  you  were  engaged  in  diplomatic 
transactions  which  were  to  carry  out  a  protective  policy.  You 
have  thus  combined,  therefore,  an  aggressive  war  with  a  pro- 
tective diplomacy ;  and  to  this  incoherent,  inconsistent  union  I 
trace  and  attribute  the  dangers  which  are  surrounding  us,  and 
which  in  my  opinion,  unless  we  terminate  that  union,  must 
increase  until  they  perhaps  overwhelm  you.  A  Conference  in 
Vienna  may  cope  with  such  questions  as  the  government  of 
Danubian  Principalities,  as  the  course  and  free  navigation  of  a 
river,  or  the  rights  of  the  Christian  subjects  of  the  Porte.  But 
Conferences  at  Vienna  cannot  cope  with  such  subjects  as  the 
invasion  of  Russian  provinces,  the  destruction  of  Russian  fort- 
resses, or  the  fortunes  of  accumulated  hosts  on  the  impatient 
territory  of  a  proud  foe.  Wasting  your  time  at  Vienna  in  this 
protective  diplomacy,  all  that  you  can  do  is  to  devise  schemes 
which  will  apply  to  the  objects  of  protective  war.  But  the  evil 
consequences  upon  the  objects  of  aggressive  war  are  daily  trace- 
able, because  by  this  chronic  diplomacy  you  not  only  check  and 
destroy  the  spirit  of  the  nation  upon  which,  after  all,  you  must 
rely,  but  by  those  very  Conferences  you  are  paralysing  your 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAR,   MAY   1855.  77 

allies  and  preventing  that  energy  and  exertion  on  the  part  of 
the  European  Powers  which  may  be  necessary  to  enable  you  to 
carry  on  your  aggressive  warfare  and  to  extricate  you  from  the 
dangers  which  you  must  meet.  Sir,  it  may  have  been  a  great 
error,  as  I  frankly  confess  I  believe  it  has  been,  to  depart  from 
the  protection  of  the  Turkish  empire  to  undertake  the  invasion 
}f  Eussia,  which  you  most  rashly  and,  as  I  think,  thought- 
issly  decided  upon ;  but  having  once  entered  upon  that  course, 
must  now  meet  the  consequences  of  the  policy  you  have 
rarsued,  and  you  cannot  extricate  yourselves  from  those  eon- 
sequences  by  Vienna  Conferences.  You  will  only  increase  your 
difficulties  and  augment  your  dangers  if  you  trust  to  diplomacy. 
Your  position  is  one  that  is  entirely  deceptive ;  and  you  never 
can  carry  on  an  aggressive  war  with  success  unless,  on  the  one 
hand,  you  are  supported  by  an  enthusiastic  people,  and  unless, 
on  the  other,  you  can  count  upon  allies  who  know  that  you 
are  determined  to  be  victorious. 

I  have  said,  Sir,  that  there  was  at  least  one  object  in  my 
making  this  motion,  not  a  solitary,  but  a  main  object — namely, 
that  I  want  the  House  of  Commons  by  its  vote  to-night — I 
want  even  those  most  favourable  to  peace,  provided,  I  suppose, 
that  it  is  made  upon  honourable  terms,  and  is  likely  to  be  per- 
manent— for  I  trust  that  no  honourable  member  would  advocate 
any  other  kind  of  peace — I  want  this  House  by  its  decision  to 
put  an  end  to  that  vicious  double  system  by  which  we  have  so 
long  carried  on  an  aggressive  war  and  a  protective  diplomacy. 
I  want  the  House  of  Commons  to-night  to  say  in  distinct 
language  that  the  time  for  negotiations  has  passed.  No  man, 
I  think,  will  be  inclined  to  deny  that  proposition  who  has  read 
Count  Nesselrode's  circular.  If  negotiations  could  bring  us  an 
honourable  peace  and  extricate  the  country  from  the  dangers 
that  surround  it;  if  I  thought  there  was  even  a  chance  of 
obtaining  such  results  by  means  of  negotiation,  I  might  still 
have  the  weakness  to  cling  to  it ;  but  I  am  convinced  that 
further  negotiations,  instead  of  securing  peace,  will  only  aggra- 
vate the  dangers  and  distresses  of  war.  I  am  confident  that,  if 
negotiations  are  continued,  the  Government  may  be  prevented, 
indeed,  from  making  a  disgraceful  peace  by  the  still  latent 


78  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

spirit  of  England ;  but  the  Government,  if  it  persists  in  its 
present  policy,  will  only  substitute  for  such  a  peace  a  lingering, 
fruitless  and  inglorious  war.  I  ask  the  House,  therefore,  to 
support  this  motion,  because  one  of  its  main  objects  is  to  put 
an  end  to  this  fatal  union  between  diplomacy  and  aggressive 
war. 

Sir,  it  has  been  said  that  the  motion  which  I  am  about  to 
make  expresses  distrust  in  Her  Majesty's  Government.  Be  it 
so.  Is  there  any  man  out  of  this  House  that  does  not  feel  dis- 
trust in  Her  Majesty's  Government  ?  I  beg  the  noble  lord  to 
understand  that  I  do  not  say  this  by  way  of  taunt.  I  know  full 
well,  and  it  is  a  most  sorrowful  thing,  that  this  distrust  is  not 
limited  to  Her  Majesty's  Government,  and  that  it  has  been 
occasioned  by  the  policy  of  the  country  for  the  last  two  years. 
That  distrust  reaches  our  generals,  although  they  are  victorious  ; 
it  reaches  our  officers,  although  during  the  war  they  have 
achieved  deeds  of  unprecedented  valour,  and  maintained  among 
their  troops  unexampled  discipline  ;  it  reaches  our  aristocracy, 
although  they  have  poured  out  their  blood  like  water  in  the 
conflict ;  lastly — and  this  is  the  worst  of  all  among  the  dark  sus- 
picions that  have,  alas !  been  rife — that  distrust  has  reached 
even  the  practical  workings  of  our  representative  institutions. 
And  will  you,  then,  hesitate  to  support  me  to-night  in  this  the 
first  effort  to  breathe  some  feeling  of  life  into  this  House,  in 
the  dangerous  circumstances  in  which,  believe  me,  the  House 
of  Commons  is  placed  ?  Further  forbearance  on  our  part  can- 
not be  submitted  to  by  our  constituents.  I  speak  frankly.  I 
say  that  silence  is  by  them  considered  to  be  an  abrogation  of  our 
functions.  You  must  say  '  Aye  '  or  i  No '  to  the  motion  I  am 
about  to  propose.  I  cannot  believe  that  you  will  allow  any 
miserable  amendments  to  evade  the  issue  which  I  am  about  to 
place  before  the  House  of  Commons.  That  issue,  is  this : 
'  Will  you  put  an  end  to  this  diplomatic  subterfuge  and  this 
ministerial  trifling  ? '  It  is  a  simple  issue,  and  it  will  be  so 
looked  upon,  I  believe,  here  and  elsewhere.  I  am  told  that  I 
am  to  be  met  by  an  amendment.  I  find  Sir,  that  a  right 
honourable  gentleman  has  done  me  the  honour  of  adopting  five 
lines  of  my  composition.  The  right  honourable  gentleman. 


PKOSECUTION   OF  WAE,   MAY   1855.  79 

(Sir  F.  Baring)  is  a  miles  emeritus  in  the  great  struggles  of 
political  life.  I  must  congratulate  the  present  ministry  upon 
its  good  fortune  in  always  having  a  Privy  Councillor  to  rush  to 
its  aid ;  and  certainly  it  ought  to  be  a  wise  Government  that 
has  so  many  amateur  and  veteran  colleagues.  I  read  that  Sir 
F.  Baring  is  to  move  an  amendment  to  my  motion  in  these 
terms : — 

*  That  this  House,  having  seen  with  regret  that  the  Con- 
ferences of  Vienna  have  not  led  to  a  termination  of  hostilities, 
feels  it  to  be  a  duty  to  declare  that  it  will  continue  to  give 
every  support  to  Her  Majesty  in  the  prosecution  of  the  war, 
until  Her  Majesty  shall,  in  cpnjunction  with  her  allies,  obtain 
for  the  country  a  safe  and  honourable  peace.' 

The  latter  portion  of  this  amendment  is  taken  from  the  words 
of  my  motion.  Is  this  amendment  which  Sir  Francis  Baring  is 
to  move  the  amendment  of  the  ministry  ?  If  it  is  their  amend- 
ment, it  is  an  act  on  their  part  which  vindicates  to  a  certain 
degree  the  course  I  have  taken,  and  in  every  sense  condemns 
themselves.  If  the  noble  lord  and  his  colleagues  think  that 
this  House  ought  in  the  present  state  of  affairs,  in  consequence 
of  the  failure  of  these  negotiations,  to  express  their  determina- 
tion to  support  Her  Majesty  in  the  manner  I  have  described,  how 
can  the  noble  lord  reconcile  it  to  himself  that  he  did  not  him- 
self, like  a  loyal  minister  of  the  Crown,  come  forward  and  pro- 
pose an  address,  thanking  Her  Majesty  for  the  [papers  which 
she  has  so  graciously  placed  upon  the  table.  I  can  hardly  recall 
the  passage,  but  I  remember  reading  of  an  example  in  the 
history  of  this  country  which  the  noble  lord  the  First  Minister 
might  well  study  in  regard  to  communications  of  this  nature 
proceeding  from  the  sovereign.  It  is  to  be  found  in  Cox's 
*  Life  of  Sir  Robert  Walpole,'  where  it  is  stated  that  the  Duke 
of  Newcastle,  then  Secretary  of  State,  brought  down  papers 
relative  to  the  threatened  invasion  of  England,  and  laid  them 
on  the  table  of  the  House  by  Eoyal  command.  In  consequence 
of  some  papers  on  the  same  subject  having  been  previously  laid 
on  the  table,  and  the  Crown  having  been  addressed  with  regard 
to  them,  the  Duke  of  Newcastle  said  that  it  would  not  be 
necessary  a  second  time  to  address  the  sovereign.  I  can 


80  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

remember  the  spirit  if  I  cannot  repeat  the  words  of  Sir  Robert 
Walpole  on  that  occasion,  when  he  made  the  only  speech  he  ever 
delivered  as  Earl  of  Orford  : — 'My  Lords,'  I  think  he  said,  'is 
the  English  language  so  barren  that  we  cannot  find  words  to 
express  our  gratitude  to  His  Majesty  for  every  act  of  grace  and 
condescension  to  this  assembly?'  And,  continuing  in  this 
strain  of  flowing  and  indignant  eloquence,  he  so  shamed  the 
ministry  that,  although  the  Grovernment  party  had  a  great 
majority  in  the  House  of  Peers,  that  august  assembly  rose 
almost  in  a  body  and  decided  that  it  should  address  the 
monarch,  while  the  Prince  of  Wales,  who  was  then  in  Opposi- 
tion, although  he  had  not  for  ^ome  time  been  on  speaking 
terms  with  the  Earl  of  Orford,  crossed  the  House,  and  warmly 
embracing  that  nobleman,  exclaimed,  '  From  this  moment  we 
are  friends.  I  feel  that  you  have  vindicated  the  honour  of  the 
Crown,  and  represented  the  feeling  of  the  country.'  Well, 
then,  here  is  the  amendment  of  the  right  honourable  gentle- 
man. Is  it  the  amendment  of  the  Grovernment  ?  Will  they 
have  courage  to  support  the  amendment  ?  If  they  have,  it  is 
possible  they  may  yet  take  Sebastopol,  for  a  more  audacious 
act  was  never  perpetrated  by  any  minister.  It  is  not :  it 
cannot  be.  It  is  an  amateur  performance.  I  make  this 
remark  with  regard,  not  to  this  amendment  only,  but  also  to 
some  others  of  which  I  have  heard.  I  wish  to  impress  upon 
the  House  the  difference  between  my  motion  and  the  shabby 
amendment  that  has  been  cribbed  from  my  thoughts  and  clothed 
in  my  stolen  language.  What  is  the  difference  between  them  ? 
It  is  this — both  the  motion  and  the  amendment  contain  the 
assurance  which  I  am  sure  honourable  gentlemen  on  all  sides 
will  feel  it  their  duty  to  proffer  to  the  Crown  of  their  determina- 
tion to  support  Her  Majesty  in  the  war  in  which  we  are 
engaged  ;  but  in  the  amendment  there  is  an  omission  of  those 
words  which,  if  they  be  adopted,  will  ring  through  England  to- 
morrow, and  will  gladden  the  heart  of  many  a  patriot  who  is 
now  discontented,  but  who  will  rejoice  when  he  finds  that  the 
House  of  Commons  have  come  to  the  issue  I  have  just  described 
and  have  decided  by  their  vote  to  night  that  there  shall  be  an 
end  to  diplomatic  subterfuge  and  ministerial  trifling. 


81 


VOTE   OF  CENSURE— DENMARK   AND   GERMANY. 
July  4,  1864.1 

[On  July  23,  1863,  the  last  night  of  the  session,  Lord  Palmerston 
said  that  if  the  independence,  the  integrity,  and  the  rights  of 
Denmark  were  assailed,  '  those  who  .  made  the  attempt  would  find  it 
was  not  Denmark  alone  with  whom  they  had  to  contend.'  When 
Denmark,  encouraged  by  this  assurance,  appealed  to  arms,  she  was 
naturally  disappointed  at  not  receiving  assistance  from  England.  All 
our  Government  could  say  was  that  they  could  not  have  gone  to  war 
with  Germany  except  in  conjunction  with  France,  and  that  France 
had  refused.  The  following  speech  is  intended  to  show  why  France 
refused.  Lord  Russell  had  thrown  over  the  Emperor  about  Poland, 
and  this  was  the  natural  consequence.  The  motion  for  an  address  to 
Her  Majesty  '  to  assure  Her  Majesty  that  we  have  heard  with  deep 
concern  that  the  sittings  of  that  Conference  have  been  brought  to  a 
close  without  accomplishing  the  important  purposes  for  which  it  was 
convened ;  to  express  to  Her  Majesty  our  great  regret  that,  while  the 
course  pursued  by  Her  Majesty's  Government  has  failed  to  maintain 
their  avowed  policy  of  upholding  the  integrity  and  independence  of  Den- 
mark, it  has  lowered  the  just  influence  of  this  country  in  the  councils 
of  Europe,  and  thereby  diminished  the  securities  for  peace,'  was  defeated 
by  the  small  majority  of  eighteen.  On  the  same  night  a  similar 
resolution  was  carried  in  the  House  of  Lords  by  a  majority  of  nine.] 

ME.  SPEAKEE, — Some  of  the  longest  and  most  disastrous 
wars  of  modern  Europe  have  been  wars  of  succession.  The 
Thirty  Years'  War  was  a  war  of  succession.  It  arose  from  a  dis- 
pute respecting  the  inheritance  of  a  duchy  in  the  north  of 
Europe,  not  very  distant  from  that  Duchy  of  Holstein  which 
now  engages  general  attention.  Sir,  there  are  two  causes  why 
wars  originating  in  disputed  succession  become  usually  of  a 
prolonged  and  obstinate  character.  The  first  is  internal  dis- 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Delates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

YOL.    II.  G 


82  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

cord,  and  the  second  foreign  ambition.  Sometimes  a  domestic 
party,  under  such  circumstances,  has  an  understanding  with  a 
foreign  potentate,  and,  again,  the  ambition  of  that  foreign 
potentate  excites  the  distrust,  perhaps  the  envy,  of  other 
Powers ;  and  the  consequence  is,  generally  speaking,  that  the 
dissensions  thus  created  lead  to  prolonged  and  complicated 
struggles.  Sir,  I  apprehend — indeed  I  entertain  no  doubt — 
that  it  was  in  contemplation  of  such  circumstances  possibly 
occurring  in  our  time,  that  the  statesmen  of  Europe,  some 
thirteen  years  ago,  knowing  that  it  was  probable  that  the 
royal  line  of  Denmark  would  cease,  and  that  upon  the  death  of 
the  then  king,  his  dominions  would  be  divided,  and  in  all  pro- 
bability disputed,  gave  their  best  consideration  to  obviate  the 
recurrence  of  such  calamities  to  Europe.  Sir,  in  these  days, 
fortunately,  it  is  not  possible  for  the  Powers  of  Europe  to  act 
under  such  circumstances  as  they  would  have  done  a  hundred 
years  ago.  Then  they  would  probably  have  met  in  secret  con- 
clave and  have  decided  the  arrangement  of  the  internal  govern- 
ment of  an  independent  kingdom.  In  our  time  they  said  to 
the  King  of  Denmark,  *  If  you  and  your  people  among  your- 
selves can  make  an  arrangement  in  the  case  of  the  contingency 
of  your  death  without  issue,  which  may  put  an  end  to  all 
internal  discord,  we  at  least  will  do  this  for  you  and  Denmark — 
we  will  in  your  lifetime  recognise  the  settlement  thus  made, 
and,  so  far  as  the  influence  of  the  Great  Powers  can  be  exercised, 
we  will  at  least  relieve  you  from  the  other  great  cause  which, 
in  the  case  of  disputed  successions,  leads  to  prolonged  wars. 
We  will  save  you  from  foreign  interference,  foreign  ambition, 
and  foreign  aggression.'  That,  Sir,  I  believe,  is  an  accurate 
account  and  true  description  of  that  celebrated  Treaty  of  May, 
1852,  of  which  we  have  heard  so  much,  and  of  which  some 
characters  are  given  which  in  my  opinion  are  unauthorised  and 
unfounded. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  purpose  of  that  treaty  was 
one  which  entitled  it  to  the  respect  of  the  communities  of 
Europe.  Its  language  is  simple  and  expresses  its  purpose. 
The  Powers  who  concluded  that  treaty  announced  that  they 
concluded  it,  not  from  their  own  will  or  arbitrary  impulse,  but 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      83 

at  the  invitation  of  the  Danish  Government,  in  order  to  give 
to  the  arrangement  relative  to  the  succession  an  additional 
pledge  of  stability  by  an  act  of  European  recognition.  If 
honourable  gentlemen  look  to  that  treaty — and  I  doubt  not 
that  they  are  familiar  with  it — they  will  find  the  first  article 
entirely  occupied  with  the  recitals  of  the  efforts  of  the  King  of 
Denmark — and,  in  his  mind,  successful  efforts — to  make  the 
necessary  arrangements  with  the  principal  estates  and  person- 
ages of  his  kingdom,  in  order  to  effect  the  requisite  alterations 
in  the  lex  regia  regulating  the  order  of  succession ;  and  the 
article  concludes  by  an  invitation  and  appeal  to  the  Powers  of 
Europe,  by  a  recognition  of  that  settlement,  to  preserve  his 
kingdom  from  the  risk  of  external  danger. 

Sir,  under  that  treaty  England  incurred  no  legal  responsi- 
bility which  was  not  equally  entered  into  by  France  and  by 
Eussia.  If,  indeed,  I  were  to  dwell  on  moral  obligations — 
which  I  think  constitute  too  dangerous  a  theme  to  introduce 
into  a  debate  of  this  kind — but  if  I  were  to  dwell  upon  that 
topic,  I  might  say  that  the  moral  obligations  which  France,  for 
example,  had  incurred  to  Denmark,  were  of  no  ordinary  cha- 
racter. Denmark  had  been  the  ally  of  France  in  that  severe 
struggle  which  forms  the  most  considerable  portion  of  modern 
history,  and  had  proved  a  most  faithful  ally.  Even  at  St. 
Helena,  when  contemplating  his  marvellous  career  and  moral- 
ising over  the  past,  the  first  emperor  of  the  dynasty  which  now 
governs  France  rendered  justice  to  the  complete  devotion  of 
the  Kings  of  Denmark  and  Saxony,  the  only  sovereigns,  he 
said,  who  were  faithful  under  all  proof  and  the  extreme  of 
adversity.  On  the  other  hand,  if  we  look  to  our  relations  with 
Denmark,  in  her  we  found  a  persevering  though  a  gallant  foe. 
Therefore,  so  far  as  moral  obligations  are  concerned,  while  there 
are  none  which  should  influence  England,  there  is  a  great  sense 
of  gratitude  which  might  have  influenced  the  councils  of  France. 
But,  looking  to  the  treaty,  there  is  no -legal  obligation  incurred 
by  England  towards  Denmark  which  is  not  equally  shared  by 
Kussia  and  by  France. 

Now,  the  question  which  I  would  first  ask  the  House  is 
this :  How  is  it  that,  under  these  circumstances,  the  position 

G   2 


84  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

of  France  relative  to  Denmark  is  one  so  free  from  embarrass- 
ment— I  might  say,  so  dignified — that  she  recently  received  a 
tribute  to  her  demeanour  and  unimpeachable  conduct  in  this 
respect  from  Her  Majesty's  Secretary  of  State ;  while  the 
position  of  England,  under  the  same  obligation,  contained  in 
the  same  treaty,  with  relation  to  Denmark,  is  one,  all  will  admit, 
of  infinite  perplexity,  and,  I  am  afraid  I  must  add,  terrible 
mortification  ?  That,  Sir,  is  the  first  question  which  I  will  put 
to  the  House,  and  which,  I  think,  ought  to  receive  a  satisfactory 
answer,  among  other  questions,  to-night.  And  I  think  that  the 
answer  that  must  first  occur  to  everyone — the  logical  inference 
— is  that  the  affairs  of  this  country  with  respect  to  our  obliga- 
tions under  the  treaty  of  1852  must  have  been  very  much  mis- 
managed to  have  produced  consequences  so  contrary  to  the 
position  occupied  by  another  Power  equally  bound  with  our- 
selves by  that  treaty. 

Sir,  this  is  not  the  first  time,  as  the  House  is  aware,  that 
the  dominions  of  the  King  of  Denmark  have  been  occupied  by 
Austrian  and  Prussian  armies.  In  the  year  1 848,  when  a  great 
European  insurrection  occurred — I  call  it  insurrection  to  dis- 
tinguish it  from  revolution,  for,  though  its  action  was  very 
violent,  the  ultimate  effect  was  almost  nothing — but  when  the 
great  European  insurrection  took  place,  there  was  no  portion  of 
Europe  more  influenced  by  it  than  Germany.  There  is  scarcely 
a  political  constitution  in  Germany  that  was  not  changed  at  that 
period,  and  scarcely  a  throne  that  was  not  subverted.  The 
King  of  Denmark,  in  his  character  of  a  sovereign  prince  of 
Germany,  was  affected  by  that  great  movement.  The  popula- 
tion of  Germany,  under  the  influence  of  peculiar  excitement  at 
that  time,  were  impelled  to  redress  the  grievances,  as  they 
alleged  them  to  be,  of  their  fellow-countrymen  in  the  dominions 
of  the  King  of  Denmark  who  were  his  subjects.  The  Duchy 
of  Holstein  and  the  Duchy  of  Schleswig  were  invaded,  a  civil 
war  was  excited  by  ambitious  princes,  and  that  territory  was 
ultimately  subjected  to  a  decree  of  that  Diet  with  which  now 
we  have  become  familiar. 

The  office  was  delegated  to  the  Austrian  and  Prussian  armies 
to  execute  that  decree,  and  they  occupied,  I  believe,  at  one 


VOTE  OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      85 

time  the  whole  continental  possessions  of  the  King  of  Denmark. 
In  1851  tranquillity  had  been  restored  to  Europe,  and  especially 
to  Germany,  and  the  troops  of  Austria  and  Prussia  ultimately 
quitted  the  dominions  of  the  King  of  Denmark.  That  they 
quitted  them  in  consequence  of  the  military  prowess  of  the 
Danes,  though  that  was  far  from  inconsiderable,  I  do  not  pretend 
to  say.  They  quitted  the  territory,  I  believe  the  truth  to  be, 
in  consequence  of  the  influence  of  Bussia,  at  that  time  irresis- 
tible in  Grermany,  and  deservedly  so,  because  she  had  interfered 
and  established  tranquillity,  and  Russia  had  expressed  her 
opinion  that  the  German  forces  should  quit  the  dominions  of  the 
King  of  Denmark.  They  quitted  the  country,  however,  under 
certain  conditions.  A  diplomatic  correspondence  had  taken 
place  between  the  King  of  Denmark  and  the  Courts  of  Berlin 
and  Vienna,  and  the  King  of  Denmark  in  that  correspondence 
entered  into  certain  engagements,  and  those  engagements  un- 
doubtedly were  recommended  to  a  certain  degree  by  the  wish,  if 
possible,  to  remedy  the  abuses  complained  of,  and  also  by  the 
desire  to  find  an  honourable  excuse  for  the  relinquishment  of 
his  provinces  by  the  Grerman  forces.  The  King  of  Denmark 
never  fulfilled  the  engagements  into  which  he  then  entered, 
partly,  I  have  no  doubt,  from  negligence.  We  know  that  it  is 
not  the  habit  of  mankind  to  perform  disagreeable  duties  when 
pressure  is  withdrawn,  but  I  have  no  doubt,  and  I  believe  the 
candid  statement  to  be,  that  it  arose  in  a  great  degree  from  the 
impracticable  character  of  the  engagements  into  which  he  had 
entered.  That  was  in  the  year  1851. 

In  1852,  tranquillity  being  then  entirely  restored,  the 
Treaty  of  May,  which  regulated  the  succession,  was  negotiated. 
And  I  may  remind  honourable  members  that  in  that  treaty 
there  is  not  the  slightest  reference  to  these  engagements  which 
the  King  of  Denmark  had  entered  into  with  the  Diet  of  Ger- 
many, or  with  German  Powers  who  were  members  of  the  Diet. 
Nevertheless,  the  consequence  of  that  state  of  affairs  was  this, 
that  though  there  was  no  international  question  respecting 
Denmark,  and  although  the  possible  difficulties  which  might 
occur  of  an  international  character  had  been  anticipated  by  the 
treaty  of  1852,  still  in  respect  to  the  King  of  Denmark's  ca 


86  SPEECHES   OF   THE   EAEL  OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

city  as  Duke  of  Holstein  and  a  sovereign  German  prince,  a 
controversy  arose  between  him  and  the  Diet  of  Germany  in 
consequence   of    those  engagements,    expressed    in    hitherto 
private  and  secret  diplomatic  correspondence  carried  on  be- 
tween him  and  certain  German  Courts.    The  House  will  under- 
stand that  this  was  not  an  international  question ;  it  did  not 
affect  the  public  law  of  Europe  ;  but  it  was  a  municipal,  local, 
or,  as  we  now  call  it,  a  federal  question.   Notwithstanding  that 
in  reality  it  related  only  to  the  King  of  Denmark  and  the  Diet 
of  Germany,  in  time  it  attracted  the  attention  of  the  Govern- 
ment of  England  and  of  the  ministers  of  the  Great  Powers, 
signataries  of  the  treaty  of  1852.     For  some  period  after  the 
treaty  of  1852,  very  little  was  heard  of  the  federal  question 
and  the  controversy  between  the  Diet  and  the  King  of  Den- 
mark.    After  the  exertions  and  exhaustions  of  the  revolutionary 
years,  the  question  slept,  but  it  did  not  die.     Occasionally  it 
gave  signs  of  vitality ;  and  as  time  proceeded,  shortly — at  least, 
not  very  long— after  the  accession  of  the  present  Government 
to  office,  the  controversy  between  the  Diet  and  the  King  of 
Denmark  assumed  an  appearance  of  very  great  life  and  acri 

mony. 

Now,  Her  Majesty's  ministers  thought  it  then-  duty  to  in. 
terfere  in  that  controversy  between  the  German  Diet  and  the 
King  of  Denmark — a  controversy  strictly  federal  and  not  inter- 
national.     Whether   they   were   wise   in   taking   that   course 
appears  very  doubtful.     My  own  impression  is,  and  always  has 
been,  that  it  would  have  been  much  better  to  have  left  the 
federal  question  between  the  Diet  and  the  King  to  work  itsel 
out.     Her  Majesty's  ministers,  however,  were  of  opinion— anc 
no  doubt  there  is  something  to  be  said  in  favour  of  that  opinioi 
—that  as  the  question,  although  federal,  was  one  which  woulc 
probably  lead  to  events  which  would  make  it  international,  il 
was  wiser  and  better  to  interfere  by  anticipation,  and  prevent 
if  possible,  the  federal  execution  ever  taking  place.     The  con 
sequence  of  that  extreme  activity  on  the  part  of  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  is  a  mass  of  correspondence  which  has  been  placed  on 
the  table,  and  with  which,  I  doubt  not,  many  gentlemen  have 
some  acquaintance,  though  they  may  have  been  more  attracte 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      87 

and  absorbed  by  the  interest  of  the  more  modern  correspondence 
which  has,  within  the  year,  been  presented  to  the  House.  Sir, 
I  should  not  be  doing  justice  to  the  Secretary  of  State 1  if  I  did 
not  bear  testimony  to  the  perseverance  and  extreme  ingenuity 
with  which  he  conducted  that  correspondence.  The  noble  lord 
the  Secretary  of  State  found  in  that  business,  no  doubt,  a 
subject  genial  to  his  nature — namely,  drawing  up  constitutions 
for  the  government  of  communities.  The  noble  lord,  we  know, 
is  almost  as  celebrated  as  a  statesman 2  who  flourished  at  the  end 
of  the  last  century  for  this  peculiar  talent.  I  will  not  criticise 
any  of  the  lucubrations  of  the  noble  lord  at  that  time.  I  think 
his  labours  are  well  described  in  a  passage  in  one  of  the  de- 
spatches of  a  distinguished  Swedish  statesman — the  present 
Prime  Minister,  if  I  am  not  mistaken — who,  when  he  was  called 
upon  to  consider  a  scheme  of  the  English  Government  for  the 
administration  of  Schleswig,  which  entered  into  minute  details 
with  a  power  and  prolixity  which  could  have  been  acquired  only 
by  a  constitutional  minister  who  had  long  served  an  apprentice- 
ship in  the  House  of  Commons,  said : 

*  Generally  speaking,  the  monarchs  of  Europe  have  found 
it  difficult  to  manage  one  Parliament,  but  I  observe,  to  my  sur- 
prise, that  Lord  Kussell  is  of  opinion  that  the  King  of  Den- 
mark will  be  able  to  manage  four.' 

The  only  remark  I  shall  make  on  this  folio  volume  of 
between  300  and  400  pages  relating  to  the  affairs  of  Schleswig 
and  Holstein  is  this — I  observe  that  the  other  Powers  of 
Europe,  who  were  equally  interested  in  the  matter,  and  equally 
bound  to  interfere — if  being  signataries  to  the  treaty  of  1852 
justified  interference — did  not  interpose  as  the  English  Govern- 
ment did.  That  they  disapproved  the  course  taken  by  us  I  by 
no  means  assert.  When  we  make  a  suggestion  on  the  subject, 
they  receive  it  with  cold  politeness ;  they  have  no  objection  to 
the  course  we  announce  we  are  going  to  follow,  but  confine 
themselves,  with  scarcely  an  exception,  to  this  conduct  on  their 
part.  The  noble  lord  acted  differently.  But  it  is  really  un- 

1  Earl  Eussell. 

2  The  Abbe  Sieyes,  I  suppose.     Lord  John  Eussell  was  the  framer  of  six 
Reform  Bills. 


88      SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

necessary  for  me  to  dwell  on  this  part  of  the  question — we 
may  dismiss  it  from  our  minds,  and  I  have  touched  on  it  only 
to  complete  the  picture  which  I  am  bound  to  place  before  the 
House — in  consequence  of  events  which  very  speedily  oc- 
curred. 

All  this  elaborate  and,  I  may  venture  to  say — not  using  the 
word  offensively,  but  accurately — pragmatical  correspondence  of 
the  noble  lord  on  the  affairs  of  Schleswig  and  Holstein  was 
carried  on  in  perfect  ignorance  on  the  part  of  the  people  of 
this  country,  who  found  very  little  interest  in  the  subject ;  and 
even  in  Europe,  where  affairs  of  diplomacy  always  attract  more 
attention,  little  notice  was  taken  of  it.  This  correspondence, 
however,  culminated  in  a  celebrated  despatch  which  appeared 
in  the  autumn  of  1862,  and  then,  for  the  first  time,  a  very 
great  effect  was  produced  in  Europe  generally — certainly  in 
Germany  and  France — and  some  interest  began  to  be  excited 
in  England.  Sir,  the  effect  of  the  Secretary  of  State's  man- 
agement of  these  transactions  had  been  this,  that  he  had  en- 
couraged— I  will  not  now  stop  to  enquire  whether  intention- 
ally or  not,  but  it  is  a  fact  that  he  had  encouraged— the  views 
of  what  is  called  the  German  party  in  this  controversy.  That 
had  been  the  effect  of  the  noble  lord's  general  interference,  but 
especially  it  was  the  result  of  the  despatch  which  appeared  in  the 
autumn  of  1862.  But,  Sir,  something  shortly  and  in  conse- 
quence occurred  which  removed  that  impression.  Germany 
being  agitated  on  the  subject,  England  at  last,  in  1863,  having 
had  her  attention  called  to  the  case,  which  began  to  produce 
some  disquietude,  and  gentlemen  in  this  House  beginning  to 
direct  their  attention  to  it,  shortly  before  the  prorogation  of 
Parliament,  the  state  of  affairs  caused  such  a  degree  of  public 
anxiety,  that  it  was  deemed  necessary  that  an  enquiry  should 
be  addressed  to  Her  Majesty's  Government  on  the  subject,  and 
that  some  means  should  be  taken  to  settle  the  uneasiness 
which  prevailed,  by  obtaining  from  ministers  a  declaration  of 
their  policy  generally  with  regard  to  Denmark. 

Sir,  that  appeal  was  not  made,  as  I  need  hardly  assure  or 
even  remind  the  House — for  many  were  witnesses  to  it — in  any 
party  spirit,  or  in  any  way  animated,  I  will  say,  by  that  disci- 


VOTE   OF   CENSUEE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      89 

plined  arrangement  with  which  public  questions  are  by  both 
sides  of  the  House  in  general  very  properly  brought  before  us.  It 
was  at  the  end  of  the  session,  when  few  were  left,  and  when  the 
answer  of  Her  Majesty's  ministers  could  not  at  all  affect  the 
position  of  parties,  though  it  might  be  of  inestimable  interest 
and  importance  in  its  effect  on  the  opinion  of  Europe  and  on 
the  course  of  events.  That  question  was  brought  forward  by 
an  honourable  friend  of  mine  (Mr.  Seymour  FitzGerald)  who 
always  speaks  on  these  subjects  with  the  authority  of  one  who 
knows  what  he  is  talking  about.  Well,  Sir,  a  communication 
was  made  to  the  noble  lord  the  First  Minister  on  the  subject, 
and  it  was  understood  on  this  side  of  the  House,  from  the 
previous  declarations  of  the  noble  lord,  and  our  experience  of 
his  career  generally,  that  it  was  not  an  appeal  which  would  be 
disagreeable  to  him,  or  one  which  he  would  have  any  desire  to 
avoid.  The  noble  lord  was  not  taken  by  surprise.  He  was 
communicated  with  privately,  and  he  himself  fixed  the  day — 
it  was  a  morning  sitting — when  he  would  come  down  and  ex- 
plain the  views  of  the  Government  in  regard  to  our  relations 
with  Denmark. 

I  am  bound  to  say  that  the  noble  lord  spoke  with  all  that 
perspicuity  and  complete  detail  with  which  he  always  treats 
diplomatic  subjects,  and  in  which  we  acknowledge  him  to  be 
a  master.  The  noble  lord  entered  into  particulars  and  gave  to 
the  House — who,  with  few  exceptions,  knew  little  about  the 
matter — not  only  a  popular,  but  generally  an  accurate  account 
of  the  whole  question.  He  described  the  constitution  of  the 
Diet  itself.  He  explained,  for  the  first  time  in  Parliament,  what 
federal  execution  meant.  The  noble  lord  was  a  little  unhappy 
in  his  prophecy  as  to  what  was  going  to  happen  with  regard  to 
federal  execution ;  but  we  are  all  liable  to  error  when  we  pro- 
phesy, and  it  was  the  only  -mistake  he  made.  The  noble  lord 
said  he  did  not  think  there  would  be  a  federal  execution,  and 
that  if  there  were  we  might  be  perfectly  easy  in  our  minds,  for 
it  would  not  lead  to  any  disturbance  in  Europe.  The  noble  lord 
also  described  the  position  of  Holstein  as  a  German  duchy,  in 
which  the  King  of  Denmark  was  a  sovereign  German  prince, 
and  in  that  capacity  a  member  of  the  Diet,  and  subject  to  the 


90  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

laws  of  the  Diet.  The  duchy  of  Schleswig,  the  noble  lord  said, 
was  not  a  German  duchy,  and  the  moment  it  was  interfered 
with,  international  considerations  would  arise.  But  the  noble 
lord  informed  us  in  the  most  re-assuring  spirit  that  his  views  on 
our  relations  with  Denmark  were  such  as  they  had  always  been. 
I  will  quote  the  exact  passage  from  the  noble  lord's  speech,  not 
because  it  will  not  be  familiar  to  the  majority  of  those  whom  I 
am  addressing,  but  because  on  an  occasion  like  the  present  one 
should  refer  to  documents,  so  that  it  may  not  be  said  after- 
wards that  statements  have  been  garbled  or  misrepresented. 
The  noble  lord  concluded  his  general  observations  in  this 
manner : — 

'  We  are  asked  what  is  the  policy  and  the  course  of  Her 
Majesty's  Government  respecting  that  dispute.  We  concur 
entirely  with  the  honourable  gentleman  (the  member  for  Hors- 
ham),  and,  I  am  satisfied,  with  all  reasonable  men  in  Europe, 
including  those  in  France  and  Russia,  in  desiring  that  the  in- 
dependence, the  integrity,  and  the  rights  of  Denmark  may  be 
maintained.  We  are  convinced — I  am  convinced  at  least  — 
that  if  any  violent  attempt  were  made  to  overthrow  those 
rights,  and  interfere  with  that  independence,  those  who  made 
the  attempt  would  find  in  the  result  that  it  would  not  be 
Denmark  alone  with  which  they  would  have  to  contend.' 

I  say  that  is  a  clear,  statesmanslike,  and  manly  declaration 
of  policy.  It  was  not  a  hurried  or  hasty  expression  of  opinion, 
because  on  a  subject  of  that  importance  and  that  character,  the 
noble  lord  never  makes  a  hasty  expression  of  opinion.  He  was 
master  of  the  subject,  and  could  not  be  taken  by  surprise.  But 
.on  that  occasion  there  was  no  chance  of  his  being  taken  by 
surprise.  The  occasion  was  arranged.  The  noble  lord  was  per- 
fectly informed  of  what  our  subject  on  this  side  was.  The 
noble  lord  sympathised  with  it.  He  wanted  the  disquietude  of 
the  public  mind  in  England,  and  on  the  Continent  especially, 
to  be  soothed  and  satisfied,  and  he  knew  that  he  could  not 
arrive  at  such  a  desirable  result  more  happily  and  more  com- 
pletely than  by  a  frank  exposition  of  the  policy  of  the  Govern- 
ment. 

Sir,  it  is  my  business  to-night  to  vindicate  the  noble  lord 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      91 

from  those  who  have  treated  this  declaration  of  policy  as  one 
used  only  to  amuse  the  House  of  Commons.  I  am  here  to 
prove  the  sincerity  of  that  declaration.  It  is  long  since  the 
speech  of  the  noble  lord  was  delivered,  and  we  have  now  upon 
our  table  the  diplomatic  correspondence  which  was  then  being 
carried  on  by  Her  Majesty's  Government  on  the  subject.  It  was 
then  secret — it  is  now  known  to  us  all ;  and  I  will  show  you 
what  at  that  very  time  was  the  tone  of  the  Secretary  of  State 
in  addressing  the  Courts  of  Germany  mainly  interested  in  the 
question.  I  will  show  how  entirely  and  how  heartily  the  secret 
efforts  of  the  Government  were  exercised  in  order  to  carry  into 
effect  the  policy  which  was  publicly  in  the  House  of  Commons 
announced  by  the  noble  lord.  I  think  it  must  have  been  very 
late  in  July  that  the  noble  lord  spoke — upon  the  23rd  I  believe 
— and  I  have  here  the  despatches  which,  nearly  at  the  same 
period,  were  being  sent  by  the  Secretary  of  State  to  the  German 
Courts.  For  example,  hear  how,  on  July  31,  the  Secretary  of 
State  writes  to  Lord  Bloomfield  at  Vienna : — 

4  You  will  tell  Count  Kechberg  that  if  Germany  persists  in 
confounding  Schleswig  with  Holstein,  other  Powers  of  Europe 
may  confound  Holstein  with  Schleswig,  and  deny  the  right  of 
Germany  to  interfere  with  the  one  any  more  than  she  has  with 
the  other,  except  as  a  European  Power.  Such  a  pretension 
might  be  as  dangerous  to  the  independence  and  integrity  of 
Germany,  as  the  invasion  of  Schleswig  might  be  to  the  inde- 
pendence and  integrity  of  Denmark.'  ('  Denmark  and  Ger- 
many,' No.  2,  115.) 

And  what  is  the  answer  of  Lord  Bloomfield?  On  Au- 
gust 6,  after  having  communicated  with  Count  Rechberg,  he 
writes  : — 

'  Before  leaving  His  Excellency  I  informed  him  that  the 
Swedish  Government  would  not  remain  indifferent  to  a  federal 
execution  in  Holstein,  and  that  this  measure  of  the  Diet,  if 
persisted  in,  might  have  serious  consequences  in  Europe.' 
(P.  117.) 

I  am  showing  how  sincere  the  policy  of  the  noble  lord  was, 
and  that  the  speech  which  we  have  been  told  was  mainly  for 
the  House  of  Commons,  was  really  the  policy  of  Her  Majesty's 


92  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

Government.  Well,  that  was  to  Austria.  Let  us  now  see  what 
was  the  despatch  to  Prussia.  In  the  next  month  Earl  Kussell 
writes  to  our  minister  at  the  Prussian  Court : — 

'  I  have  caused  the  Prussian  charge  d'affaires  to  be  in- 
formed that  if  Austria  and  Prussia  persist  in  advising  the  Con- 
federation to  make  a  federal  execution  now,  they  will  do  so 
against  the  advice  already  given  by  Her  Majesty's  Government, 
and  must  be  responsible  for  the  consequences,  whatever  they 
may  be.  The  Diet  should  bear  in  mind  that  there  is  a  mate- 
rial difference  between  the  political  bearing  of  a  military 
occupation  of  a  territory  which  is  purely  and  solely  a  portion 
of  the  Confederation,  and  the  invasion  of  a  territory  which, 
although  a  part  of  the  German  Confederation,  is  also  portion 
of  the  territory  of  an  independent  Sovereign,  whose  dominions 
are  counted  as  an  element  in  the  balance  of  power  in  Europe.' 

I  have  now  shown  the  House  what  was  the  real  policy  of 
the  Government  with  respect  to  our  relations  with  Denmark 
when  Parliament  was  prorogued,  and  I  have  also  shown  that 
the  speech  of  the  noble  lord  the  First  Minister  of  the  Crown 
was  echoed  by  the  Secretary  of  State  to  Austria  and  Prussia. 
I  have  shown,  therefore,  that  it  was  a  sincere  policy,  as  an- 
nounced by  the  noble  lord.  I  will  now  show  that  it  was  a  wise 
and  a  judicious  policy. 

Sir,  the  noble  lord  having  made  this  statement  to  the  House 
of  Commons,  the  House  was  disbanded,  the  members  went  into 
the  country  with  perfect  tranquillity  of  mind  respecting  these 
affairs  of  Denmark  and  Germany.  The  speech  of  the  noble 
lord  re-assured  the  country,  and  gave  them  confidence  that  the 
noble  lord  knew  what  he  was  about.  And  the  noble  lord  knew 
that  we  had  a  right  to  be  confident  in  the  policy  he  had  an- 
nounced, because  at  that  period  the  noble  lord  was  aware  that 
France  was  perfectly  ready  to  co-operate  with  Her  Majesty's 
Government  in  any  measure  which  they  thought  proper  to 
adopt  with  respect  to  the  vexed  transactions  between  Denmark 
and  Germany.  Nay,  France  was  not  only  ready  to  co-operate, 
but  she  spontaneously  offered  to  act  with  us  in  any  way  we 
desired.  The  noble  lord  made  his  speech  at  the  end  of  July — 
I  think  July  23 — and  it  is  very  important  to  know  what  at  that 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      93 

moment  were  our  relations  with  France  in  reference  to  this 
subject.  I  find  in  the  correspondence  on  the  table  a  despatch 
from  Lord  Cowley,  dated  July  31.  The  speech  of  the  noble 
lord  having  been  made  on  the  23rd,  this  is  a  despatch  written 
upon  the  same  subject  on  the  31st.  Speaking  of  the  affairs  of 
Germany  and  Denmark,  Lord  Cowley  writes : — 

1  M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys  expressed  himself  as  desirous  of  acting 
in  concert  with  Her  Majesty's  Government  in  this  matter.' 

I  have  now  placed  before  the  House  the  real  policy  of  the 
Government  at  the  time  Parliament  was  prorogued  last  year. 
I  have  shown  you  that  it  was  a  sincere  policy  when  expressed 
by  the  noble  lord.  I  have  shown  that  it  was  a  sound  and 
judicious  policy,  because  Her  Majesty's  Government  was  then 
conscious  that  France  was  ready  to  co-operate  with  this  country, 
France  having  expressed  its  desire  to  aid  us  in  the  settlement 
.  of  this  question.  Well,  Sir,  at  the  end  of  the  summer  of  last 
-  year,  and  at  the  commencement  of  the  autumn,  after  the 
speeches  and  despatches  of  the  First  Minister  and  the  Secretary 
!>'-  of  State,  and  after,  at  the  end  of  July,  that  re-assuring  an- 
nouncement from  the  French  Government,  there  was  great 
excitement  in  Germany.  The  German  people  have  been  for  some 
time  painfully  conscious  that  they  do  not  exercise  that  influence 
in  Europe  which  they  believe  is  due  to  the  merits,  moral,  in- 
tellectual, and  physical,  of  forty  millions  of  population,  homo- 
geneous and  speaking  the  same  language.  During  the  summer 
of  last  year  this  feeling  was  displayed  in  a  remarkable  manner, 
and  it  led  to  the  meeting  at  Frankfort,  which  has  not  been 
hitherto  mentioned  in  reference  to  these  negotiations,  but 
which  was  in  reality  a  very  significant  affair. 

The  German  people  at  that  moment  found  the  old  question 
of  Denmark — the  relations  between  Denmark  and  the  Diet — to 
be  the  only  practical  question  upon  which  they  could  exhibit 
their  love  of  a  united  fatherland,  and  their  sympathy  with  a 
kindred  race  who  were  subjects  of  a  foreign  prince.  Therefore 
there  was  very  great  excitement  in  Germany  on  the  subject ;  and 
to  those  who  are  not  completely  acquainted  with  the  German 
character,  and  who  take  for  granted  that  the  theories  they  put 
forth  are  all  to  be  carried  into  action,  there  were  no  doubt  many 


94      SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

symptoms  which  were  calculated  to  alarm  the  cabinet.  Her 
Majesty's  Government,  firm  in  their  policy,  firm  in  their  ally, 
knowing  that  the  moderate  counsels  urged  by  France  and  Eng- 
land in  a  spirit  which  was  sincere  and  which  could  not  be  mis- 
taken, must  ultimately  lead  to  some  conciliatory  arrangements 
between  the  King  of  Denmark  and  the  Diet,  I  suppose  did  not 
much  disquiet  themselves  respecting  the  agitation  in  Germany. 
But  towards  the  end  of  the  summer  and  the  commencement  of 
the  autumn — in  the  month  of  September — after  the  meeting  at 
Frankfort  and  after  other  circumstances,  the  noble  lord  the 
Secretary  of  State,  as  a  prudent  man — a  wise,  cautious,  and 
prudent  minister — thought  it  would  be  just  as  well  to  take 
time  by  the  forelock,  to  prepare  for  emergencies,  and  to  remind 
his  allies  at  Paris  of  the  kind  and  spontaneous  expression  on 
their  part  of  their  desire  to  co-operate  with  him  in  arranging 
this  business.  I  think  it  was  on  September  16,  that  Lord 
Kussell,  the  Secretary  of  State,  applied  in  this  language  to  our 
minister  at  Paris — our  ambassador  (Lord  Cowley)  being  at  that 
time  absent : — 

'  As  it  might  produce  some  danger  to  the  balance  of  power, 
especially  if  the  integrity  and  independence  of  Denmark  were 
in  any  way  impaired  by  the  demands  of  Germany,  and  the 
measures  consequent  thereupon,  if  the  Government  of  the 
Emperor  of  the  French  are  of  opinion  that  any  benefit  would 
be  likely  to  follow  from  an  offer  of  good  services  on  the  part  of 
Great  Britain  and  France,  Her  Majesty's  Government  would 
ready  to  take  that  course.  If,  however,  the  Government  o: 
France  would  consider  such  a  step  as  likely  to  be  unavailing 
the  two  Powers  might  remind  Austria,  Prussia,  and  the  Diet, 
that  any  act  on  their  part  tending  to  weaken  the  integrity  and 
independence  of  Denmark  would  be  at  variance  with  the  treaty 
of  May  8,  1852.'  (No.  2,  130.) 

Sir,  I  think  that  was  a  very  prudent  step  on  the  part  of  the 
Secretary  of  State.  It  was  virtually  a  reminder  of  the  offer 
which  France  had  made  some  months  before.  Yet,  to  the 
surprise,  and  entirely  to  the  discomfiture  of  Her  Majesty's 
Government,  this  application  was  received  at  first  with  coldness, 
and  afterwards  with  absolute  refusal. 


VOTE   OF  CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.      95 

Well,  Sir,  I  pause  now  to  inquire  what  had  occasioned  this 
change  in  the  relations  between  the  two  Courts.  Why  was 
France,  which  at  the  end  of  the  session  of  Parliament  was  so 
heartily  with  England,  and  so  approving  the  policy  of  the  noble 
lord  with  respect  to  Denmark  and  Germany  that  she  volun- 
tarily offered  to  act  with  us  in  endeavouring  to  settle  the  ques- 
tion— why  was  France  two  or  three  months  afterwards  so 
entirely  changed  ?  Why  was  she  so  cold,  and  ultimately  in  the 
painful  position  of  declining  to  act  with  us  ?  I  stop  for  a 
moment  my  examination  of  this  correspondence  to  look  for  the 
causes  of  this  change  of  feeling,  and  I  believe  they  may  be 
easily  discerned. 

Sir,  at  the  commencement  of  last  year  an  insurrection  broke 
in  Poland.  Unhappily,  insurrection  in  Poland  is  not  an 
unprecedented  event.  This  insurrection  was  extensive  and 
menacing ;  but  there  had  been  insurrections  in  Poland  before 
quite  as  extensive  and  far  more  menacing — the  insurrection  of 
1831,  for  example,  for  at  that  time  Poland  possessed  a  national 
army  second  to  none  for  valour  and  discipline.  Well,  Sir,  the 
question  of  the  Polish  insurrection  in  1831  was  a  subject  of 
deep  consideration  with  the  English  Government  of  that  day. 
They  went  thoroughly  into  the  matter ;  they  took  the  soundings 
of  that  question  ;  it  was  investigated  maturely,  and  the  Govern- 
ment of  King  William  IV.  arrived  at  these  two  conclusions — 
first,  that  it  was  not  expedient  for  England  to  go  to  war  for 
the  restoration  of  Poland  ;  and,  second,  that  if  England  was 
not  prepared  to  go  to  war,  any  interference  of  another  kind  on 
her  part  would  only  aggravate  the  calamities  of  that  fated 
people.  These  were  the  conclusions  at  which  the  Government 
of  Lord  Grey  arrived,  and  they  were  announced  to  Parliament. 

This  is  a  question  which  the  English  Government  has  had 
more  than  one  opportunity  of  considering,  and  in  every  instance 
they  considered  it  fully  and  completely.  It  recurred  again  in 
the  year  1855,  when  a  Conference  was  sitting  at  Vienna  in  the 
midst  of  the  Eussian  war,  and  again  the  English  Government 
— the  Government  of  the  Queen — had  to  deal  with  the  subject 
of  Poland.  It  was  considered  by  them  under  the  most  favour- 
able circumstances  for  Poland,  for  we  were  at  war  then,  and  at 


96  SPEECHES   OF   THE   EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

war  with  Eussia.  But  after  performing  all  the  duties  of  a 
responsible  ministry  on  that  occasion,  Her  Majesty's  Grovern- 
ment  arrived  at  these  conclusions — first,  that  it  was  not  only 
not  expedient  for  England  to  go  to  war  to  restore  Poland,  but 
that  it  was  not  expedient  even  to  prolong  a  war  for  that  object  j 
and,  in  the  next  place,  that  any  interference  with  a  view  to 
provoke  a  war  in  Poland,  without  action  on  our  part,  was  not 
just  to  the  Poles,  and  must  only  tend  to  bring  upon  them 
increased  disasters.  I  say,  therefore,  that  this  question  of 
Poland  in  the  present  century,  and  within  the  last  thirty-four 
years,  has  been  twice  considered  by  different  Governments  ;  and 
when  I  remind  the  House  that  on  its  consideration  by  the 
cabinet  of  Lord  Grey  in  1831,  the  individual  who  filled  the 
office  of  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs,  and  who,  of 
course,  greatly  guided  the  opinion  of  his  colleagues  on  such  a 
question,  was  the  noble  lord  the  present  First  Minister  of  the 
Crown ;  and  when  I  al=o  remind  the  House  that  the  British 
plenipotentiary  at  the  Conference  of  Vienna  in  1855,  on  whose 
responsibility  in  a  great  degree  the  decision  then  come  to  was 
arrived  at,  is  the  present  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs, 
I  think  that  England,  when  the  great  difficulties  of  last  year 
with  respect  to  Poland  occurred,  had  a  right  to  congratulate 
herself  that,  in  a  situation  of  such  gravity,  and  at  an  emergency 
when  a  mistake  might  produce  incalculable  evils,  her  fortunes 
were  regulated  not  only  by  two  statesmen  of  such  great  ability 
and  experience,  but  by  statesmen  who,  on  this  subject,  possessed 
peculiar  advantages,  who  had  thoroughly  entered  into  the 
question,  who  knew  all  its  issues,  all  the  contingencies  that 
might  possibly  arise  in  its  management,  and  who  on  the  two 
previous  occasions  on  which  it  had  been  submitted  to  the  con 
sideration  of  England,  had  been  the  guiding  ministers  to  de- 
termine her  to  a  wise  course  of  action. 

Now,  I  must  observe  that  what  is  called  the  Polish  question 
occupies  a  different  position  in  France  from  that  which  it  occu- 
pies in  England.  I  will  not  admit  that,  in  deep  sympathy  with 
the  Poles,  the  French  are  superior  to  the  English  people.  I 
believe  I  am  only  stating  accurately  the  feelings  of  this  country 
when  I  say,  that  among  men  of  all  classes  there  is  no  modern 


VOTE   OF   CENSUKE— DENMAKK  AND   GEKMANY,   JULY   1864.      97 

event  which  is  looked  back  to  with  more  regret  than  the  parti- 
tion of  Poland.  It  is  universally  acknowledged  by  them  to  be 
one  of  the  darkest  pages  of  the  history  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury. But  in  France  the  Polish  question  is  not  a  question 
which  merely  interests  the  sentiments  of  the  millions.  It  is  a 
political  question,  and  a  political  question  of  the  very  highest 
importance — a  question  which  interests  ministers,  and  cabinets, 
and  princes.  Well,  the  ruler  of  France,  a  sagacious  prince  and 
a  lover  of  peace,  as  the  Secretary  of  State  has  just  informed  us, 
was  of  course  .perfectly  alive  to  the  grave  issues  involved  in 
what  is  called  the  Polish  question.  But  the  Emperor  knew 
perfectly  well  that  England  had  already  had  opportunities  of 
considering  it  in  the  completest  manner,  and  had  arrived  at  a 
settled  conclusion  with  regard  to  it.  Therefore,  with  charac- 
teristic caution,  he  exercised  great  reserve,  and  held  out  little 
encouragement  to  the  representatives  of  the  Polish  people. 
He  knew  well  that  in  1855  he  himself,  our  ally — and  with  us  a 
conquering  ally — had  urged  this  question  on  the  English 
Government,  and  that,  under  the  most  favourable  circum- 
stances for  the  restoration  of  Poland,  we  had  adhered  to  our 
traditionary  policy,  neither  to  go  to  war  nor  to  interfere. 
Therefore,  the  French  Government  exhibited  a  wise  reserve  on 
the  subject. 

But  after  a  short  time,  what  must  have  been  the  astonish- 
ment of  the  Emperor  of  the  French  when  he  found  the  English 
Government  embracing  the  cause  of  Poland  with  extraordinary 
ardour !  The  noble  lord  the  Secretary  of  State  and  the  noble 
lord  the  First  Minister,  but  especially  the  former,  announced 
this  policy  as  if  it  were  a  policy  new  to  the  consideration  of 
statesmen,  and  likely  to  lead  to  immense  results.  He  abso- 
lutely served  a  notice  to  quit  on  the  Emperor  of  Eussia.  He 
sent  a  copy  of  this  despatch  to  all  the  Courts  of  Europe  which 
were  signataries  of  the  treaty  of  Vienna,  and  invited  them  to 
follow  his  example.  From  the  King  of  Portugal  down  to  the 
King  of  Sweden  there  was  not  a  signatary  of  that  treaty  who 
was  not,  as  it  were,  clattering  at  the  palace  gates  of  St.  Peters- 
burg, and  calling  the  Czar  to  account  respecting  the  affairs  of 
Poland.  For  three  months  Europe  generally  believed  that 

VOL.  II.  H 


98  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

there  was  to  be  a  war  on  a  great  scale,  of  which  the  restoratioi 
of  Poland  was  to  be  one  of  the  main  objects.     Is  it  at  all  re 
markable  that  the  French  Government  and  the  French  people 
cautious  as  they  were  before,  should  have  responded  to  such 
invitations  and  such  stimulating  proposals  ?     We  know  how  the 
noble  lord  fooled  them  to  the  top  of  their  bent.     The  House 
recollects  the  six  propositions  to  which  the  attention  of  the 
Emperor  of  Eussia  was  called  in  the  most  peremptory  manner. 
The  House  recollects  the  closing  scene,  when  it  was  arrange 
that -the  ambassadors  of  France,  Austria,  and  England,  shouk 
on  the  very   same  day   appear  at  the  hotel  of  the  minist 
of  Eussia,   and   present   notes  ending   with    three    identic^ 
paragraphs,  to  show  the  agreement  of  the  Powers.     An  ii 
pression  pervaded  Europe  that  there  was  to  be  a  general  war, 
and  that  England,  France,  and  Austria  were  united  to  restoi 
Poland. 

The  House  remembers  the  end  of  all  this — it  remember 
the  reply 1  of  the  Eussian  minister,  couched  in  a  tone  of  haughtj 
sarcasm  and  of  indignation  that  deigned  to  be  ironical.     Thei 
was  then  but  one  step  to  take,  according  to  the  views  of  tl 
French  Government,  and  that  was  action.     They  appealed 
that  England  which  had  itself  thus  set  the  example  of  agitatioi 
on  the  subject ;  and  England,  wisely  as  I  think,  recurred 
her  traditionary  policy,  the  Government  confessing  that  it  WE 
a  momentary  indiscretion  which  had  animated  her  councils  fo 
three  or  four  months ;  that  they  never  meant  anything  mor 
than  words ;  and  a  month  afterwards,  I  believe,  they  sent  to  S 
Petersburg  an  obscure  despatch,  which  may  be  described  as  s 
apology.     But  this  did  not  alter  the  position  of  the  Frenc 
Government  and  the  French  Emperor.    The  Emperor  had  beer 
induced  by  us  to  hold  out  promises  which  he  could  not  fulfil 
He  was  placed  in  a  false  position  towards  both  the  people  o 
Poland  and  the  people  of  France ;  and  therefore,  Sir,  I  am  nol 
surprised  that  when  the  noble  lord  the  Secretary  of  State, ; 
little  alarmed  by  the  progress  of  affairs  in  Germany,  though 
it  discreet  to  reconnoitre  his  position  on  September   17, 
should  have  been  received  at  Paris  with  coldness,  and,  ulti 
1  «  Russia  was  ready  to  assume  that  responsibility  before  God  and  man.' 


[TOTE  OF  CENSURE— DENMAEK  AND  GERMANY,  JULY   1864.      99 

nately,  that  his  despatch  should  have  been  answered  in  this 
nanner. 

I  fear  that  I  may  weary  the  House  with  my  narrative,  but 
will  not  abuse  the  privilege  of  reading  extracts,  which  is 
generally  very  foreign  to  my  desire.  Yet,  on  a  question  of  this 
dnd  it  is  better  to  have  the  documents,  and  not  lay  oneself 
rpen  to  the  charge  of  garbling.  Mr.  Grey,  writing  to  Lord 
Russell  on  September  18,  1863,  says: — 

'  The  second  mode  of  proceeding  suggested  by  your  lordship 
—namely,  *'to  remind  Austria,  Russia,  and  the  German  Diet, 
hat  any  acts  on  their  part  tending  to  weaken  the  integrity  and 
ndependence  of  Denmark  would  be  at  variance  with  the  treaty 
>f  May  8,  1852,"  would  be  in  a  great  measure  analogous  to  the 
-ourse  pursued  by  Great  Britain  and  France  in  the  Polish 
[uestion..    He  had  no  inclination  (and  he  frankly  avowed  that 
le  should  so  speak  to  the  Emperor)  to  place  France  in  the  same 
>osition  with  reference  to  Germany  as  she  had  been  placed  in 
sith  regard  to  Eussia.     The  formal  notes  addressed  by  the 
hree  Powers  to  Russia  had  received  an  answer  which  literally 
meant  nothing,  and  the  position  in  which  those  three  great 
Powers  were  now  placed  was  anything  but  dignified ;   and  if 
England  and  France  were  to  address  such  a  reminder  as  that 
proposed  to  Austria,  Prussia,  and  the  German  Confederation, 
they  must  be  prepared  to  go  further,  and  to  adopt  a  course  of 
action  more  in  accordance  with  the  dignity  of  two  great  Powers 
than  they  were  now  doing  in  the  Polish  question.  .  .  .  Unless 
Her  Majesty's  Government   was   prepared   to   go   further,   if 
1  necessary,  than  the  mere  presentation  of  a  note,  and  the  receipt 
i  of  an  evasive  re'ply,  he  was  sure  the  Emperor  would  not  consent 
!  to  adopt  your  lordship's  suggestion.'     (No.  2,  131.) 

Well,  Sir,  that  was  an  intimation  to  the  noble  lord  with  res- 
'  pect  to  the  change  in  the  relations  between  England  and  France 
that  was  significant ;   I  think  it  was  one  that  the  noble  lord 
<  should  have  duly  weighed — and  when  he  remembered  the  posi- 
tion which  this  country  occupied  with  regard  to  Denmark — that 
it  was  a  position  under  the  treaty  which  did  not  bind  us  to 
interfere  more  than  France  itself — conscious,  at  the  same  time, 
that  any  co-operation  from  Russia  in  the  same    cause  could 

H   2 


100  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

hardly  be  counted  upon.  I  should  have  said  that  a  prudent 
Government  would  have  well  considered  that  position,  and  that 
they  would  not  have  taken  any  course  which  committed  them 
too  strongly  to  any  decided  line  of  action.  But  so  far  as  I  can 
judge  from  the  correspondence  before  us,  that  was  not  the  tone 
taken  by  Her  Majesty's  Government ;  because  here  we  have 
extracts  from  the  correspondence  of  the  Secretary  of  State  to 
the  Swedish  minister,  to  the  Diet  at  Frankfort,  and  a  most 
important  despatch  to  Lord  Bloomfield :  all  in  the  fortnight 
that  elapsed  after  the  receipt  of  the  despatch  of  Mr.  Grey  that 
notified  the  change  in  the  feeling  of  the  French  Grovernment. 
It  is  highly  instructive  that  we  should  know  what  effect  that 
produced  in  the  system  and  policy  of  Her  Majesty's  Government. 
Immediately — almost  the  day  after  the  receipt  of  that  despatch 
— the  Secretary  of  State  wrote  to  the  Swedish  minister : — 

'  Her  Majesty's  Government  set  the  highest  value  on  the 
independence  and  integrity  of  Denmark.  .  .  .  Her  Majesty's 
Government  will  be  ready  to  remind  Austria  and  Prussia  oi 
their  treaty  obligations  to  respect  the  integrity  and  independence 
of  Denmark.'  (No.  2,  137-8.) 

Then  on  September  29 — that  is,  only  nine  or  ten  days  after 
the  receipt  of  the  French  despatch — we  have  this  most  important 
despatch,  which  I  shall  read  at  some  little  length.  It  is  at 
page  136,  and  is  really  addressed  to  the  Diet.  The  Secretary 
of  State  says : — 

1  Her  Majesty's  Government,  by  the  treaty  of  London  o: 
May  8,  1852,  is  bound  to  respect  the  integrity  and  independ- 
ence of  Denmark.  The  Emperor  of  Austria  and  the  King  of 
Prussia  have  taken  the  same  engagement.  Her  Majesty  could 
not  see  with  indifference  a  military  occupation  of  Hoist  ein, 
which  is  only  to  cease  on  terms  injuriously  affecting  the  consti- 
tion  of  the  whole  Danish  monarchy.  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment could  not  recognise  this  military  occupation  as  a  legiti- 
mate exercise  of  the  powers  of  the  Confederation,  or  admit  that 
it  could  properly  be  called  a  federal  execution.  Her  Majesty's 
Government  could  not  be  indifferent  to  the  bearing  of  such  an 
act  upon  Denmark  and  European  interests.  Her  Majesty's 
Government  therefore  earnestly  entreat  the  German  Diet  to 


VOTE  OF  CENSURE— DENMARK  AND  GERMANY,   JULY   1864.   101 

pause  and  to  submit  the  questions  in  dispute  between  Germany 
and  Denmark  to  the  mediation  of  other  Powers  unconcerned  in 
the  controversy,  but  deeply  concerned  in  the  maintenance  of 
the  peace  of  Europe  and  the  independence  of  Denmark.' 
(No.  2,  145.) 

My  object  in  reading  this  despatch  is  to  show  that,  after  the 
dication  of  the  change  of  feeling  on  the  part  of  France,  the 
ilicy — the  sincere  policy — of  the  Government  was  not  modified, 
e  Secretary  of  State  writes  thus  on  September  30,  to  Lord 
loomfield  at  Vienna : — 

'Her   Majesty's  Government  trust  that  no  act  of  federal 
xecution  to  which  Austria  may  be  a  party,  and  no  act  of  war 
inst  Denmark  on  the  ground  of  the  affairs  of  Schleswig,  will 
e  allowed  to  clash  with  this  primary  and  essential  treaty  obliga- 
on.     Her  Majesty's  Government,  indeed,  entertain  a  full  con- 
fidence that  the  Government  of  Austria  is  as  deeply  impressed 
Her  Majesty's  Government  with  the  conviction  that  the  in- 
ependence  and  integrity  of  Denmark  form  an  essential  element 
the  balance  of  power  in  Europe.'     (No.  3,  147.) 
Now,  this  takes  us  to  the  end  of  September  ;  and  I  think  the 
House  up  to  this  time  tolerably  clearly  understands  the  course 
of  the  correspondence.     Nothing  of  any  importance  happened 
in  October  that  requires  me  to  pause  and  consider  it.     "We 
arrive,  then,  at  the  month  of  November,  and  now  approach  very 
important  and  critical  affairs.     The  month  of  November  was 
remarkable  for  the  occurrence  of  two  great  events  which  com- 
pletely changed  the  character  and  immensely  affected  the  aspect 
of  the  whole  relations  between  Denmark  and  Germany ;  and 
which  produced  consequences  which  none  of  us  may  see  the 
end  of.     Early  in  November  the  Emperor  of  the  French  pro- 
posed  a   European   Congress.     His  position  was  such — as  he 
himself  has  described  it,  there  can  be  no  indelicacy  in  saying 
so — his  position  had  become  painful  from  various  causes,  but 
mainly  from  the  manner  in  which  he  had  misapprehended  the 
conduct  of  the  English  Government  with  regard  to  Poland.    He 
saw  great  troubles  about  to  occur  in  Europe ;  he  wished  to  antici- 
pate their  settlement ;  he  felt  himself  in  a  false  position  with 
respect  to  his  own  subjects,  because  he  had  experienced  a  great 


102  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

diplomatic  discomfiture ;  but  he  was  desirous — and  there  is  no 
doubt  of  the  sincerity  of  the  declaration — he  was  desirous  of 
still  taking  a  course  which  should  restore  and  retain  the  cordial 
understanding  with  this  country.  He  proposed,  then,  a  general 
Congress. 

Well,  when  Parliament  met  on  February  4  I  had  to  make 
certain  observations  on  the  general  condition  of  affairs,  and 
I  gave  my  opinion  as  to  the  propriety  of  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment refusing  to  be  a  party  to  that  Congress.  Generally 
speaking,  I  think  that  a  Congress  should  not  precede  action. 
If  you  wish  any  happy  and  permanent  results  from  a  Congress, 
it  should  rather  follow  the  great  efforts  of  nations  ;  and  when 
they  are  somewhat  exhausted,  give  them  the  opportunity  of  an 
honourable  settlement.  Sir,  I  did  not  think  it  my  duty  to 
conceal  my  opinion,  Her  Majesty's  Government  having  admitted 
that  they  had  felt  it  their  duty  to  refuse  a  proposition  of  that 
character.  I  should  have  felt  that  I  was  wanting  in  that  in- 
genuousness and  fair-play  in  politics  which  I  hope,  whoever 
sits  on  that  bench  or  this,  we  shall  always  pursue,  if,  when  the 
true  interests  of  the  country  are  concerned,  agreeing  as  I  did  with 
the  Government,  I  did  not  express  frankly  that  opinion.  But, 
Sir,  I  am  bound  to  say  that  had  I  been  aware  of  what  has  been 
communicated  to  us  by  the  papers  on  the  table — had  I  been 
aware,  when  I  spoke  on  February  4,  that  only  a  week  before 
Parliament  met,  that  only  a  week  before  we  were  assured  by  a 
Speech  from  the  Throne,  that  Her  Majesty  was  continuing  to 
carry  on  negotiations  in  the  interest  of  peace — that  Her 
Majesty's  Government  had  made  a  proposition  l  to  France  which 
must  inevitably  have  produced,  if  accepted,  a  great  European 
war,  I  should  have  given  my  approbation  in  terms  much  more 
qualified. 

But,  Sir,  whatever  difference  of  opinion  there  might  be  as 
to  the  propriety  or  impropriety  of  Her  Majesty's  Government 
acceding  to  the  Congress,  I  think  there  were  not  then — I  am 
sure  there  are  not  now — two  opinions  as  to  the  mode  and 
manner  in  which  that  refusal  was  conveyed.  Sir,  when  the 
noble  lord  vindicated  that  curt  and,  as  I  conceive,  most  offen- 

1  Cf.  p.  117. 


VOTE  OF  CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,  JULY   1864.   103 

sive  reply,  he  dilated  the  other  night  on  the  straightforwardness 
of  British  ministers,  and  said  that,  by  whatever  else  their  lan- 
guage might  be  characterised,  it  was  distinguished  by  candour 
and  clearness,  and  that  even  where  it  might  be  charged  with 
being  coarse,  it  at  least  conveyed  a  determinate  meaning. 
Well,  Sir,  I  wish  that  if  our  diplomatic  language  is  characterised 
by  clearness  and  straightforwardness,  some  of  that  spirit  had 
distinguished  the  despatches  and  declarations  addressed  by  the 
noble  lord  to  the  Court  of  Denmark.  It  is  a  great  pity  that  we 
did  not  have  a  little  of  that  rude  frankness  when  the  fortunes 
of  that  ancient  kingdom  were  at  stake. 

But,  Sir,  another  event  of  which  I  must  now  remind  the 
House  happened  about  that  time.  In  November  the  King  of 
Denmark  died.  The  death  of  the  King  of  Denmark  entirely 
changed  the  character  of  the  question  between  Grermany  and 
Denmark.  The  question  was  a  federal  question  before,  as  the 
noble  lord,  from  the  despatches  I  have  read,  was  perfectly 
aware  ;  but  by  the  death  of  the  King  of  Denmark  it  became  an 
international  question,  because  the  controversy  of  the  King  of 
Denmark  was  with  the  Diet  of  Grermany,  which  had  not  recog- 
nised the  change  in  the  lex  regia,  or  the  changes  in  the  suc- 
cession to  the  various  dominions  of  the  King.  It  was,  there- 
fore, an  international  question  of  magnitude  and  of  a  menacing 
character.  Under  these  circumstances,  when  the  question  be- 
came European,  when  the  difficulties  were  immensely  magnified 
and  multiplied — the  offer  of  a  Congress  having  been  made  on 
November  5,  and  not  refused  until  the  27th,  the  King  of  Den- 
mark having  died  on  the  16th — it  was,  I  say,  with  a  complete 
knowledge  of  the  increased  risk  and  of  the  increased  dimensions 
of  the  interests  at  stake,  that  the  noble  lord  sent  that  answer 
to  the  invitation  of  the  Emperor  of  the  French.  I  say,  Sir, 
that  at  this  moment  it  became  the  Grovernment  of  England 
seriously  to  consider  their  position.  With  the  offer  of  the  Con- 
gress, and  with  the  death  of  the  King  of  Denmark — with  these 
two  remarkable  events  before  the  noble  lord's  eyes,  it  is  my 
duty  to  remind  the  House  of  the  manner  in  which  the  noble 
lord  the  Secretary  of  State  addressed  the  European  Powers. 
Neither  of  these  great  events  seems  to  have  induced  the  noble 


104  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

lord  to  modify  his  tone.  On  November  19,  the  King  having 
just  died,  the  Secretary  of  State  writes  to  Sir  Alexander  Malet, 
our  minister  to  the  Diet,  to  remind  him  that  all  the  Powers  of 
Europe  had  agreed  to  the  treaty  of  1852.  On  the  20th  he 
writes  a  letter  of  menace  to  the  German  Powers,  saying  that 
Her  Majesty's  Government  expect,  as  a  matter  of  course,  that 
all  the  Powers  will  recognise  the  succession  of  the  King  of  Den- 
mark as  heir  of  all  the  States  which,  according  to  the  treaty  of 
London,  were  united  under  the  sceptre  of  the  late  King.  And 
on  the  23rd,  four  days  before  he  refused  the  invitation  to  the 
Congress,  he  writes  to  Lord  Bloomfield  : — 

'  Her  Majesty's  Government  would  have  no  right  to  inter- 
fere on  behalf  of  Denmark  if  the  troops  of  the  Confederation 
should  enter  Holstein  on  federal  grounds.  But  if  execution 
were  enforced  on  international  grounds,  the  Powers  who  signed 
the  treaty  of  1852  would  have  a  right  to  interfere.  (No.  3, 
230.) 

To  Sir  Augustus  Paget,  our  minister  at  Copenhagen,  on 
November  30 — the  House  will  recollect  that  this  was  after  he 
had  refused  the  Congress,  after  the  King  had  died,  and  after  the 
question  had  become  an  international  one — he  writes  announc- 
ing his  refusal  of  the  Congress,  and  proposing  the  sole  mediation 
of  England.  Then  he  writes  to  Sir  Alexander  Malet  in  the 
same  month,  that  Her  Majesty's  Government  can  only  leave  to 
Germany  the  sole  responsibility  of  raising  a  war  in  Europe, 
which  the  Diet  seemed  bent  on  making. 

That  is  the  tone  which  the  Government  adopted,  after  the 
consideration,  as  we  are  bound  to  believe,  which  the  question 
demanded,  after  having  incurred  the  responsibility  of  refusing 
the  Congress  offered  by  the  Emperor  of  the  French,  after  the 
death  of  the  King  of  Denmark,  after  the  question  had  been 
changed  from  a  federal  to  an  international  one — such,  I  repeat, 
is  the  tone  they  took  up,  and  in  which  they  sent  their  menacing 
messages  to  every  Court  in  Germany.  I  say  that  at  the  death 
of  the  King  of  Denmark  it  behoved  Her  Majesty's  ministers, 
instead  of  adopting  such  a  course,  maturely  to  consider  their 
position  in  relation  to  the  events  which  had  occurred.  There 
were  two  courses  open  to  Her  Majesty's  Government,  both 


VOTE  OF   CENSUEE— DENMAEK  AND   GEEMANY,  JULY   1864.    105 

intelligible,  both  honourable.  It  was  open  to  them,  after  the 
death  of  the  King  of  Denmark,  to  have  acted  as  France  had 
resolved  under  the  same  circumstances  to  act — France,  who 
occupies,  we  are  told,  a  position  in  reference  to  these  matters  so 
dignified  and  satisfactory  that  it  has  received  the  compliments 
even  of  a  baffled  minister.  That  course  was  frankly  announced 
shortly  afterwards  to  the  English  minister  by  the  minister  of 
France  in  Denmark.  On  November  19  General  Fleury  said  to 
Lord  Wodehouse  at  Copenhagen  : — 

'  That  his  own  instructions  from  the  Emperor  were,  not  to 
take  part  in  any  negotiations  here,  but  to  tell  the  Danish 
Government  explicitly  that  if  Denmark  became  involved  in  a 
war  with  Germany,  France  would  not  come  to  her  assistance.' 

If  England  had  adopted  that  course  it  would  have  been 
intelligible  and  honourable.  "We  were  not  bound  by  the  treaty 
of  1852  to  go  to  the  assistance  of  Denmark  if  she  became  in- 
volved in  a  war  with  Germany.  No  one  pretends  that  we  were. 
As  a  matter  of  high  policy,  much  as  we  may  regret  any  disturb- 
ance in  the  territorial  limits  of  Europe,  being  a  country  the 
policy  of  which  is  a  policy  of  tranquillity  and  peace,  there  were 
no  adequate  considerations  which  could  have  justified  England 
in  entering  into  an  extensive  European  war,  without  allies,  to 
prevent  a  war  between  Denmark  and  Germany.  That  was,  I 
say,  an  honourable  and  intelligible  course. 

There  was  another  course  equally  intelligible  and  equally 
honourable.  Though  I  am  bound  to  say  that  the  course  which 
I  should  have  recommended  the  country  to  take  would  have 
T^een  to  adopt  the  same  position  as  that  of  France,  yet,  if  the 
Government  really  entertained  the  views  with  respect  to  the 
balance  of  power  which  have  been  expressed  occasionally  in  the 
House  by  the  noble  lord,  and  in  a  literary  form  by  the  Secretary 
of  State — from  which  I  may  say  I  disagree,  because  they  appear 
to  me  to  be  founded  on  the  obsolete  tradition  of  an  antiquated 
system,  and  because  I  think  that  the  elements  from  which  we 
ought  to  form  an  opinion  as  to  the  distribution  of  the  power  of 
the  world  must  be  collected  from  a  much  more  extensive  area, 
and  must  be  formed  of  larger  and  more  varied  elements : 
but  let  that  pass :  yet,  I  say,  if  Her  Majesty's  Government 


106  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

were  of  opinion  that  the  balance  of  power  was  endangered  by  a 
quarrel  between  Germany  and  Denmark,  they  were  justified  in 
giving  their  advice  to  Denmark,  in  threatening  Germany,  and 
in  taking  the  general  management  of  the  affairs  of  Denmark  ; 
but  they  were  bound,  if  a  war  did  take  place  between  Germany 
and  Denmark,  to  support  Denmark.  Instead  of  that,  they  in- 
vented a  process  of  conduct  which  I  hope  is  not  easily  exampled 
in  the  history  of  this  country,  and  which  I  can  only  describe  in 
one  sentence — it  consisted  of  menaces  never  accomplished  and 
promises  never  fulfilled. 

With  all  these  difficulties  they  never  hesitate  in  their  tone. 
At  least,  let  us  do  them  this  justice — there  never  were,  in 
semblance,  more  determined  ministers.  They  seemed  at  least 
to  rejoice  in  the  phantom  of  a  proud  courage.  But  what  do- 
they  do  ?  They  send  a  special  envoy  to  Denmark,  who  was  to 
enforce  their  policy  and  arrange  everything.  Formally  the 
special  envoy  was  sent  to  congratulate  the  King  on  his  accession 
to  the  throne  of  Denmark,  and  all  the  other  Powers  did  the 
same ;  but  in  reality  the  mission  of  Lord  Wodehouse  was  for 
greater  objects  than  that,  and  his  instructions  are  before  us  in 
full.  Without  wearying  the  House  by  reading  the  whole  of 
those  instructions,  I  will  read  one  paragraph,  which  is  the  last, 
and  which  is,  as  it  were,  a  summary  of  the  whole.  They  were 
written  at  the  end  of  December.  Recollect,  this  is  the  policy 
of  the  Government  after  refusing  the  Congress,  and  after  the 
death  of  the  King  of  Denmark,  which  had  therefore  incurred 
a  still  deeper  responsibility,  and  which,  we  must  suppose,  had 
deeply  considered  all  the  issues  involved.  This  is  the  cream 
of  the  instructions  given  by  the  Government  to  Lord  Wode- 
house : — 

4  The  result  to  be  arrived  at  is  the  fulfilment  of  the  treaty 
of  May  8,  1852,  and  of  the  engagements  entered  into  by 
Prussia  and  Austria  and  Denmark  in  1851-2.'  (No.  3,  353.) 

Lord  Wodehouse  could  not  possibly  be  at  fault  as  to  what 
he  was  to  do  when  he  arrived  at  his  destination.  His  was,  no 
doubt,  a  significant  appointment.  He  was  a  statesman  of  some 
experience  ;  he  had  held  a  subordinate  but  important  position 
in  the  administration  of  our  foreign  affairs;  he  had  been  a 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.    107" 

minister  at  a  northern  Court ;  he  had  recently  distinguished 
himself  in  Parliament  by  a  speech  on  the  question  of  Germany 
and  Denmark,  in  which  he  took  a  decidedly  Danish  view. 
Lord  Wodehouse  received  clear  instructions  as  to  what  he  was 
to  do.  But,  at  the  same  time,  what  was  the  conduct  of  the 
Secretary  of  State  ?  While  Lord  Wodehouse  was  repairing  to 
his  post,  did  the  Secretary  of  State  in  the  least  falter  in  his 
tone  ?  It  was  about  this  time  that  the  great  diplomatic  repri- 
mand was  sent  to  Sir  Alexander  Malet  for  having  talked  of  the 
*  protocol '  of  1852  instead  of  the  'treaty.'  This  was  the  time 
that  instructions  were  sent  out  that  if  anybody  had  the  hardi- 
hood to  mention  the  *  protocol '  of  1852  he  was  immediately 
to  be  stopped.  However  elevated  his  position  might  be,  even 
if  it  were  M.  Bismarck  himself,  he  was  to  be  pulled  up 
directly,  in  the  full  flow  of  his  eloquence ;  note  was  to  be 
taken  of  this  great  diplomatic  lapsus,  and  the  minister  was  to 
telegraph  instantly  home  to  his  Government  how  he  had  carried 
out  his  instructions  in  this  respect.  On  December  17  the  noble 
lord  thus  wrote  to  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan,  our  ambassador  at 
Berlin : — 

'Let  it  suffice  at  present  for  Her  Majesty's  Government  to 
declare  that  they  would  consider  any  departure  from  the  treaty 
of  succession  of  1852,  by  Powers  who  signed  or  acceded  to  that 
treaty,  as  entirely  inconsistent  with  good  faith.'  (No.  3,  383.) 

Similar  despatches  were  sent  to  Wurtemberg,  Hanover,  and 
Saxony.  On  December  23  the  noble  Earl  wrote  to  Sir  Andrew 
Buchanan : — 

'  If  the  overthrow  of  the  dynasty  now  reigning  in  Denmark 
is  sought  by  Germany,  the  most  serious  consequences  may 
ensue.'  (No.  3,  411.)  (Cheers.) 

I  want  to  know  what  honourable  members  mean  by  cheering 
the  words  I  have  just  quoted.  If  you  wish  to  convey  even  to  a 
little  Power  that  if  it  does  a  certain  thing  you  will  go  to  war 
with  it,  you  take  care  not  to  announce  your  intention  in  an 
offensive  manner ;  because,  were  you  to  do  so,  probably,  even 
the  smallest  Power  in  Europe  would  not  yield.  And  certainly 
if  you  wish  to  tell  a  great  Power  in  Europe  what  may  be  even- 
tually the  consequences  if  it  should  adopt  a  different  line  from 


108  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD, 

that  which  you  desire,  you  would  not  abruptly  declare  that  if 
it  declined  to  accede  to  your  wish  you  would  declare  war. 
Why,  there  are  no  despatches  on  record  in  the  world — there  is 
no  record  in  any  Foreign  Office  of  language  of  this  kind.  The 
question  is,  what  interpretation  can  be  put  on  these  threats. 
The  Secretary  of  State  writes  again  on  December  25  to  Sir 
Andrew  Buchanan,  stating  that — 

*  Any  precipitate  action  on  the  part  of  the  German  Confeder- 
ation may  lead  to  consequences  fatal  to  the  peace  of  Europe, 
and  may  involve  Germany,  in  particular,  in  difficulties  of  the 
most  serious  nature.'  (No.  4,  414.) 

On  December  26  the  Secretary  of  State  writes  to  Sir 
Alexander  Malet,  and  sends  him  a  copy  of  the  treaty  of  1852, 
in  order  that  he  may  communicate  it  to  the  Diet.  Now,  that 
is  the  state  of  affairs  after  the  King  of  Denmark's  death  ;  after 
he  had  been  perfectly  acquainted  with  the  policy  of  France ; 
after  he  had  been  frankly  told  that  the  French  Emperor  had 
explicitly  informed  Denmark  that  if  she  got  involved  in  war 
with  Germany,  France  would  not  come  to  her  assistance. 
Now  the  words  *  if  she  went  to  war '  might  have  been  interpreted 
in  two  ways ;  because  she  might  get  into  war  without  any  fault 
of  her  own,  and  Germany  might  be  the  aggressor  :  but  there 
could  be  no  mistake  in  regard  to  the  words  *  if  she  became 
involved  in  war.'  Neither  Denmark  nor  England  could  make 
any  mistake  in  regard  to  the  policy  of  France,  which  the 
Secretary  of  State  now  says  was  a  magnanimous  policy. 

Notwithstanding  these  threats,  notwithstanding  these 
repeated  menaces,  and  notwithstanding  every  effort  made  by 
Her  Majesty's  Government  to  prevent  it,  federal  execution  took 
place,  as  it  was  intended  to  take  place.  One  day,  after  the  most 
menacing  epistle  which  I  have  ever  read — the  day  after  the 
copy  of  the  treaty  of  1852  had  been  solemnly  placed  before  the 
Diet  by  Sir  Alexander  Malet — on  December  27,  federal  execu- 
tion took  place.  At  any  rate,  I  do  not  think  that  is  evi- 
dence of  the  just  influence  of  England  in  the  counsels  of 
Germany. 

What  was  the  course  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  at  this 
critical  conjuncture  ?  Why,  Sir,  they  went  again  to  France. 


VOTE  OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   G-EKMANY,   JULY   1864.    109 

After  all  that  had  happened  their  only  expedient  was  to  go 
and  supplicate  France.  I  will  read  the  letter.  (Mr.  Layard : 
Hear,  hear !)  The  honourable  gentleman  seems  to  triumph  in 
the  recollection  of  mistakes  and  disappointments.  I  will  give 
him  the  date,  but  I  should  think  it  must  really  be  seared  upon 
his  conscience.  December  27  is  the  date  of  the  federal 
execution  :  and  Her  Majesty's  Government  must  have  been  in 
a  state  of  complete  panic,  because  on  the  28th  they  make  appli- 
cation to  France,  which  is  answered  in  a  few  hours  by  Lord 
Cowley  :  '  I  said  Her  Majesty's  Government  were  most  sincerely 

anxious  to '  (laughter).  I  wish  really  to  be  candid,  not  to 

misrepresent  anything,  and  to  put  the  case  before  the  House 
without  garbling  any  of  the  despatches. — '  I  said  that  Her 
Majesty's  Government  were  most  sincerely  anxious  to  act  with 
the  Imperial  Government  in  this  question.'  No  doubt  they 
were.  I  am  vindicating  your  conduct.  I  believe  in  your  sin- 
cerity throughout.  It  is  only  your  intense  incapacity  that  I 
denounce.  The  passage  in  the  despatch  is  Shakspearean ;  it 
is  one  of  those  dramatic  descriptions  which  only  a  masterly 
pen  could  accomplish.  Lord  Cowley  went  on : — 

*  Her  Majesty's  Government  felt  that  if  the  two  Powers 
could  agree,  war  might  be  avoided ;  otherwise  the  danger  of  war 
was  imminent.  M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys  said  he  partook  this 
opinion ;  but  as  his  Excellency  made  no  further  observation,  I 
remarked  it  would  be  a  grievous  thing  if  the  difference  of 
opinion  which  had  arisen  upon  the  merits  of  a  general  Congress 
were  to  produce  an  estrangement  which  would  leave  each 
Government  to  pursue  its  own  course.  I  hoped  that  this  would 
not  be  the  case.  Her  Majesty's  Government  would  do  all  in 
their  power  to  avoid  it.  I  presumed  I  might  give  them  the 
assurance  that  the  Imperial  Government  were  not  decided  to 
reject  the  notion  of  a  Conference.'  (No.  4,  444.) 

Well,  Sir,  this  received  a  curt  and  unsatisfactory  reply. 
Nothing  could  be  obtained  from  that  plaintive  appeal  of  Lord 
Cowley.  Well,  what  did  Her  Majesty's  Government  do  ? 
Having  received  information  that  the  threat  of  federal  execu- 
tion had  been  fulfilled,  having  appealed  to  France,  and  been 
treated  in  the  manner  I  have  described,  what  did  the  Govern- 


110  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD . 

ment  do  ?  Why,  the  Secretary  of  State,  within  twenty-four 
hours  afterwards,  penned  the  fiercest  despatch  he  had  ever  yet 
written.  It  is  dated  December  31,  1863,  and  it  is  addressed  to 
Sir  Andrew  Buchanan : — 

'  Her  Majesty's  Government  do  not  hold  that  war  would 
relieve  Prussia  from  the  obligations  of  the  treaty  of  1852.  The 
King  of  Denmark  would  by  that  treaty  be  entitled  still  to  be 
acknowledged  as  the  sovereign  of  all  the  dominions  of  the  late 
King  of  Denmark.  He  has  been  so  entitled  from  the  time  of 
the  death  of  the  late  King.  A  war  of  conquest  undertaken  by 
Germany  avowedly  for  the  purpose  of  adding  some  parts  of  the 
Danish  dominions  to  the  territory  of  the  German  Confederation 
might,  if  successful,  alter  the  state  of  succession  contemplated 
by  the  treaty  of  London,  and  give  to  Germany  a  title  by  con- 
quest to  parts  of  the  dominions  of  the  King  of  Denmark.  The 
prospect  of  such  an  accession  may  no  doubt  be  a  temptation  to 
those  who  think  it  can  be  accomplished;  but  Her  Majesty's 
Government  cannot  believe  that  Prussia  will  depart  from  the 
straight  line  of  good  faith  in  order  to  assist  in  carrying  such  a 
project  into  effect.'  (No.  4,  445.)  (Ministerial  cheers.) 

You  cheer  as  if  it  were  a  surprising  thing  that  the  Secretary 
of  State  should  have  written  a  single  sentence  of  common  sense. 
These  are  important  State  documents,  and  I  hope  Her  Majesty's 
Government  are  not  so  fallen  that  there  is  not  a  minister 
among  them  who  is  able  to  write  a  despatch — I  do  not  say  a 
bad  despatch,  but  a  very  important  one.  I  wish  to  call  attention 
to  its  importance : — 

'  If  German  nationality  in  Holstein,  and  particularly  in 
Schleswig,  were  made  the  ground  of  the  dismemberment  of 
Denmark,  Polish  nationality  in  the  Duchy  of  Posen  would  be  a 
ground  equally  strong  for  the  dismemberment  of  Prussia.  It 
appears  to  Her  Majesty's  Government  that  the  safest  course  for 
Prussia  to  pursue  is  to  act  with  good  faith  and  honour,  and  to 
stand  by  and  fulfil  her  treaty  engagements.  By  such  a  course 
she  will  command  the  sympathy  and  approval  of  Europe ;  by  a 
contrary  course  she  will  draw  down  upon  herself  the  universal 
condemnation  of  all  disinterested  men.  By  this  course  alone 
war  in  Europe  can  be  with  certainty  prevented.'  (No.  4,  445.) 


VOTE  OF  CENSUEE— DENMAEK  AND  GEEMANY,  JULY   1864.    Ill 

Well,  Sir,  that  I  think  was  a  bold  despatch  to  write  after  the 
rejection,  for  the  second  or  third  time,  of  our  overtures  to 
France.  That  brings  us  up  to  the  last  day  of  the  year. 

But  before  I  proceed  to  more  recent  transactions,  it  is 
necessary  to  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  the  remarkable 
contrast  between  the  menaces  lavished  on  Germany  and  the 
expectations — to  use  the  mildest  term — that  were  held  out  to 
Denmark.  The  first  great  object  of  Her  Majesty's  Government 
when  the  difficulties  began  to  be  very  serious,  was  to  induce 
Denmark  to  revoke  the  patent  of  Holstein — that  is,  to  terminate 
its  constitution.  The  constitution  of  Holstein  had  been  granted 
very  recently  before  the  death  of  the  King,  with  a  violent  desire 
on  the  part  of  the  monarch  to  fulfil  his  promises.  It  was  a  wise 
and  excellent  constitution,  by  which  Holstein  became  virtually 
independent.  It  enjoyed  the  fullness  of  self-government,  and 
was  held  only  by  a  sovereign  tie  to  Denmark,  as  Norway  is 
held  to  Sweden.  The  Danish  Government  were  not  at  all  willing 
to  revoke  the  constitution  in  Holstein.  It  was  one  that  did 
them  credit,  aud  was  naturally  popular  in  Holstein.  Still,  the 
Diet  was  very  anxious  that  the  patent  should  be  revoked, 
because  if  Holstein  continued  satisfied  it  was  impossible  to  trade 
on  the  intimate  connection  between  Schleswig  and  Holstein, 
the  lever  by  which  the  kingdom  of  Denmark  was  to  be  destroyed. 
The  Diet,  therefore,  insisted  that  the  patent  should  be  revoked. 
Her  Majesty's  Government,  I  believe,  approved  the  patent  of 
Holstein,  as  the  Danish  Government  had  done,  but,  as  a  means 
of  obtaining  peace  and  saving  Denmark,  they  made  use  of  all 
the  means  in  their  power  to  induce  Denmark  to  revoke  that 
constitution.  Sir  Augustus  Paget,  writing  to  the  Foreign 
Secretary  on  October  14,  and  describing  an  interview  with  M. 
Hall,  the  Prime  Minister  of  Denmark,  says : — 

*  After  much  further  conversation,  in  which  I  made  use  of 
every  argument  to  induce  his  Excellency  to  adopt  a  conciliatory 
course,  and  in  which  I  warned  him  of  the  danger  of  rejecting 
the  friendly  counsels  now  offered  by  Her  Majesty's  Government ' 
—(No.  3,  162)— 

M.  Hall  promises  to  withdraw  the  patent.  What  interpre- 
tation could  M.  Hall  place  on  that  interview  ?  He  was  called 


,. 
>-• 


112  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

upon  to  do  what  he  knew  to  be  distasteful,  and  believed  to  be 
impolitic.  He  is  warned  of  the  danger  of  rejecting  those 
friendly  counsels,  and  in  consequence  of  that  warning  he  gives 
way  and  surrenders  his  opinion.  I  would  candidly  ask  what  is 
the  interpretation  which  in  private  life  would  be  put  on  such 
language  as  I  have  quoted,  and  which  had  been  acted  upon  by 
those  to  whom  it  was  addressed  ? 

Well,  we  now  come  to  the  federal  execution  in  Holstem- 
Speaking  literally,  the  federal  execution  was  a  legal  act,  and 
Denmark  could  not  resist  it.  But  from  the  manner  in  which  it 
was  about  to  be  carried  into  effect,  and  in  consequence  of  the 
pretensions  connected  with  it,  the  Danes  were  of  opinion  that 
it  would  have  been  better  at  once  to  resist  the  execution, 
which  aimed  a  fatal  blow  at  the  independence  of  Schleswig, 
and  upon  this  point  they  felt  strongly.  Well,  Her  Majesty's 
Government — and  I  give  them  full  credit  for  being  actuated  by 
the  best  motives — thought  otherwise,  and  wished  the  Danish 
Government  to  submit  to  this  execution.  And  what  was  the 
sort  of  language  used  by  them  in  order  to  bring  about  that 
result  ?  Sir  Augustus  Paget  replied  in  this  way  to  the  objec- 
tions of  the  Danish  minister  : — 

4 1  replied  that  Denmark  would  at  all  events  have  a  better 
chance  of  securing  the  assistance  of  the  Powers  if  the  execu- 
tion were  not  resisted.' 

I  ask  any  candid  man  to  put  his  own  interpretation  upon 
this  language.  And  on  the  12th  of  the  same  month  Lord 
Russell  himself  tells  M.  Bille,  the  Danish  Minister  in  London, 
that  there  is  no  connection  between  the  engagements  of  Den- 
mark to  Germany  and  the  engagements  of  the  German  Powers 
under  the  treaty  of  1852.  After  such  a  declaration  from  the 
English  Minister  in  the  metropolis — a  declaration  which  must 
have  had  the  greatest  effect  upon  the  policy  of  the  Danish 
Government — of  course  they  submitted  to  the  execution.  But 
having  revoked  the  patent  and  submitted  to  the  execution,  as 
neither  the  one  nor  the  other  was  the  real  object  of  the  Ger- 
man Powers,  a  new  demand  was  made  which  was  one  of  the 
greatest  consequence. 

Now,  listen  to  this.     The  new  demand  was  to  repeal  the 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE  -DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.    113 

whole  constitution.  I  want  to  put  clearly  before  the  House 
the  position  of  the  Danish  Government  with  respect  to  this 
much-talked-of  constitution.  There  had  been  in  the  preceding 
year  a  Parliamentary  Eeform  Bill  carried  in  Denmark.  The 
King  died  before  having  given  his  assent  to  it,  though  he  was 
most  willing  to  have  done  so.  The  instant  the  new  King 
succeeded  the  Parliamentary  Reform  Bill  was  brought  to  him. 
Of  course  great  excitement  prevailed  in  Denmark,  just  as  it  did 
in  England  at  the  time  of  the  Reform  Bill  under  similar  cir- 
cumstances, and  the  King  was  placed  in  a  most  difficult  position. 
Now,  observe  this :  England,  who  was  so  obtrusive  and  prag- 
matical in  the  counsels  which  she  gave,  who  was  always  offering 
advice  and  suggestions,  hung  back  when  the  question  arose 
whether  the  new  King  should  give  his  assent  to  the  Reform  Bill 
or  not.  England  was  selfishly  silent,  and  would  incur  no  respon- 
sibility. The  excitement  in  Copenhagen  was  great,  and  the 
King  gave  his  assent  to  the  Bill.  But  mark !  At  that  moment 
it  was  not  at  all  impossible  that  if  Her  Majesty's  Government 
had  written  a  despatch  to  Copenhagen  asking  the  King  not  to 
give  his  assent  to  the  Bill  for  the  space  of  six  weeks,  in  order  to 
assist  England  in  the  negotiations  she  was  carrying  on  in  behalf 
of  Denmark ;  and  if  the  King  had  convened  his  council  and 
laid  before  them  the  expressed  wish  of  an  ally  who  was  then 
looked  upon  by  Denmark  with  confidence  and  hope,  especially 
from  the  time  that  France  had  declared  she  would  not  assist 
her,  I  cannot  doubt  that  the  King  would  have  complied  with  a 
request  that  was  so  important  to  his  fortunes.  But  the  instant 
the  King  had  sanctioned  the  new  constitution,  the  English 
Government  began  writing  despatches  calling  upon  him  to 
revoke  it.  Ay,  but  what  was  his  position  then  ?  How  could  he 
revoke  it  ?  The  King  was  a  constitutional  king ;  he  could 
have  put  an  end  to  this  constitution  only  by  a  coup  d'etat ; 
and  he  was  not  in  a  position,  nor  I  believe  if  he  were  had  he 
the  inclination,  to  do  such  an  act.  The  only  constitutional 
course  open  to  him  was  to  call  the  new  Parliament  together, 
with  the  view  of  their  revoking  the  constitution. 

But  see  what  would  have  been  the  position  of  affairs  then. 
In  England  the  Reform  Act  was  passed  in  1832,  new  elections 

VOL.    II.  I 


114  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

took  place  under  it,  and  the  House  assembled  under  Lord 
Althorp,  as  the  leader  of  the  Government.  Now,  suppose 
Lord  Althorp  had  come  down  to  that  House  with  a  King's 
speech  recommending  them  to  revoke  the  Reform  Act,  and 
have  asked  leave  to  introduce  another  Bill  for  the  purpose  of 
reforming  the  constitution,  would  it  not  have  been  asking 
an  utter  impossibility  ?  But  how  did  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment  act  towards  Denmark  in  similar  circumstances  ?  First  of 
all,  the  noble  lord  at  the  head  of  the  Foreign  Office  wrote  to 
Lord  Wodehouse  on  December  20,  giving  formal  advice  to  the 
Danish  Government  to  repeal  the  constitution,  and  Lord  Wode- 
house, who  had  been  sent  upon  this  painful  and,  I  must  say, 
impossible  office  to  the  Danish  minister,  thus  speaks  of  the 
way  in  which  he  had  performed  his  task : — 

'  I  pointed  out  to  M.  Hall  also  that  if,  on  the  one  hand, 
Her  Majesty's  Government  would  never  counsel  the  Danish 
Government  to  yield  anything  inconsistent  with  the  honour 
and  independence  of  the  Danish  Crown,  and  the  integrity  of 
the  King's  dominions ;  so,  on  the  other  hand,  we  had  a  right  to 
expect  that  the  Danish  Government  would  not,  by  putting  for- 
ward extreme  pretensions,  drive  matters  to  extremities.' 

And  Sir  Augustus  Paget,  who  appears  to  have  performed 
his  duty  with  great  temper  and  talent,  writing  on  December 
22,  says : — 

'  I  asked  M.  Hall  to  reflect  what  would  be  the  position  of 
Denmark  if  the  advice  of  the  Powers  were  refused,  and  what 
it  would  be  if  accepted,  and  to  draw  his  own  conclusions.* 
(No.  4,  420.) 

Now,  I  ask,  what  are  the  conclusions  which  any  gentleman 
— I  do  not  care  on  what  side  of  the  House  he  may  sit — would 
have  drawn  from  such  language  as  that  ?  But  before  that,  a 
special  interview  took  place  between  Lord  Wodehouse  and  the 
Danish  Minister,  of  which  Lord  Wodehouse  writes : — 

'  It  was  my  duty  to  declare  to  M.  Hall  that  if  the  Danish 
Government  rejected  our  advice,  Her  Majesty's  Government 
must  leave  Denmark  to  encounter  Germany  on  her  own  re- 
sponsibility.' 

Well,  Sir,  I  ask  again  whether  there  are  two  interpretations 


fOTE   OF   CENSURE — -DENMAEK  AND   GEEMANY,   JULY   1864.    115 

be  put  upon  such  observations  as  these  ?     And  what  hap- 
ned  ?     It  was  impossible  for  M.  Hall,  who  was  the  author  of 
e  constitution,  to  put  an  end  to  it ;  so  he  resigned — a  new 
overnment  is  formed,  and  under  the  new  constitution  Parlia- 
ent  is  absolutely  called  together  to  pass  an  Act  to  terminate 
own  existence.     And  in  January  Sir  Augustus  Paget  tells 
the  Danish  Government,  with  some  naivete — 

*  If  they  would  summon  the  Eigsraad,  and  propose  the  re- 
peal of  the  constitution,  they  would  act  wisely,  in  accordance 
with  the  advice  of  their  friends,  and  the  responsibility  of  the 
war  would  not  be  laid  at  their  door.' 

Well,  then,  these  were  three  great'  subjects  on  which  the 
representation  of  England  induced  Denmark  to  adopt  a  course 
against  her  will,  and,  as  the  Danes  believed,  against  their 
policy.  The  plot  begins  to  thicken.  Notwithstanding  the 
revocation  of  the  patent,  the  federal  execution,  and  the  re- 
peal of  the  constitution,  one  thing  more  is  wanted,  and  Schles- 
•wig  is  about  to  be  invaded.  Affairs  now  become  most  critical. 
No  sooner  .is  this  known  than  a  very  haughty  menace  is  sent 
to  Austria.  From  a  despatch  of  Lord  Bloomfield,  dated 
December  31,  it  will  be  seen  that  Austria  was  threatened,  if 
Schleswig  was  invaded,  that 

'  The  consequences  would  be  serious.  The  question  would 
cease  to  be  a  purely  German  one,  and  would  become  one  of 
European  importance.' 

On  January  4,  Earl  Eussell  writes  to  Mr.  Murray,  at  the 
Court  of  Saxony : — 

'  The  most  serious  consequences  are  to  be  apprehended  if 
the  Germans  invade  Schleswig.'  (No.  4,  481.) 

On  the  9th,  again,  he  writes  to  Dresden  : — 

*  The  line  taken  by  Saxony  destroys  confidence  in  diplo- 
matic relations  with  that  State.'     (No.  4,  502.) 

On  January  18  he  writes  to  Lord  Bloomfield : — 

*  You  are  instructed  to  represent  in  the  strongest  terms  to 
Count  Eechberg,  and,  if  you   shall  have    an   opportunity  of 
doing  so,  to  the  Emperor,  the  extreme  injustice  and  danger  of 
the  principle  and  practice  of  taking  possession  of  the  territory 
of  a  State  as  what  is  called  a  material  guarantee  for  the  obtain- 

i  2 


116  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ment  of  certain  international  demands,  instead  of  pressing 
those  demands  by  the  usual  method  of  negotiation.  Such  a 
practice  is  fatal  .to  peace,  and  destructive  of  the  independence 
of  States.  It  is  destructive  of  peace  because  it  is  an  act  of  war,, 
and  if  resistance  takes  place  it  is  the  beginning  of  war.  But 
war  so  begun  may  not  be  confined  within  the  narrow  limits  o\ 
its  early  commencement,  as  was  proved  in  1853,  when  the 
occupation  of  the  Danubian  Principalities  by  Kussia  as  a 
material  guarantee  proved  the  direct  cause  of  the  Crimean  war.' 
(No.  4,  564.) 

It  is  only  because  I  do  not  wish  to  weary  the  House  that  ] 
do  not  read  it  all,  but  it  is  extremely  well  written.  ['  Bead.'] 
Well,  then,  the  despatch  goes  on  to  say : — 

*  Such  a  practice  is  most  injurious  to  the  independence  and 
integrity  of  the  States  to  which  it  is  applied,  because  a  terri- 
tory so  occupied  can  scarcely  be  left  by  the  occupying  force  in 
the  same  state  in  which  it  was  when  the  occupation  took  place. 
But,  moreover,  such  a  practice  may  recoil  upon  those  who 
adopt  it,  and,  in  the  ever-varying  course  of  events,  it  may  be 
most  inconveniently  applied  to  those  who,  having  set  the 
example,  had  nattered  themselves  it  never  could  be  applied 
to  them.'  (No.  4,  564.) 

Well,  the  invasion  of  Schleswig  is  impending,  and  then  ar 
identic  note  is  sent  to  Vienna  and  Berlin  in  these  terms  : — 

'  Her  Majesty's  Government  having  been  informed  that  tht 
Governments  of  Austria  and  Prussia  have  addressed  a  threaten-  II 
ing  summons  to  Denmark,  the  undersigned  has  been  instructec  It 
to  ask  for  a  formal  declaration  on  the  part  of  those  Govern- 1 
ments  that  they  adhere  to  the  principle  of  the  integrity  of  th<  I 
Danish  monarchy.'     (No.  4,  565.) 

And  again,  writing  to  Lord  Bloomfield,  the  Secretary  oil 
State  for  Foreign  Affairs  speaks  of  the  invasion  as  '  a  bread 
of  faith  which  may  entail  upon  Europe  wide-spread  calamities 
But  all  these  remonstrances  were  in  vain.  Notwithstanding 
these  solemn  warnings,  notwithstanding  this  evidence  that  ii 
the  German  Courts  the  just  influence  of  England  was  lowerec 
the  invasion  of  Schleswig  takes  place.  And  what  is  the  conduc 
of  the  Government  ?  They  hurry  again  to  Paris.  They  prc 
pose  a  joint  declaration  of  the  non-German  Powers.  Eai 


TOTE  OF  CENSUEE— DENMAKK  AND   GEEMANY,   JULY   1864.    117 

Russell  writes  to  Lord  Cowley  in  the  middle  of  January.  An 
.answer  was  sent,  I  believe,  the  next  day,  the  14th,  and  this  is 
Lord  Cowley's  statement  in  reference  to  the  opinion  of  the 
French  Government : — 

'  As  to  the  four  Powers  impressing  upon  the  Diet  the 
heavy  responsibility  that  it  would  incur  if,  by  any  precipitate 
measures,  it  were  to  break,  the  peace  of  Europe  before  the 
•Conference  which  had  been  proposed  by  the  British  Govern- 
ment for  considering  the  means  of  settling  the  question 
between  Germany  and  Denmark,  and  thereby  maintaining  that 
peace,  can  be  assembled,  M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys  observed  that  he 
had  not  forgotten  that  when  Eussia  had  been  warned  by  France, 
Great  Britain,  and  Austria  of  the  responsibility  which  she  was 
incurring  by  her  conduct  towards  Poland,  Prince  Gortschakoff 
had  replied,  "  that  Russia  was  ready  to  assume  that  respon- 
sibility before  God  and  man."  He,  for  one,  did  not  wish  to 
provoke  another  answer  of  the  same  sort  to  be  received  with 
the  same  indifference.'  (No.  4,  536.) 

The  drama  now  becomes  deeply  interesting.  The  events  are  • 
quick.  That  is  the  answer  of  the  French  Government ;  and 
on  the  next  day  Lord  Russell  writes  to  Lord  Cowley  to  propose 
concert  and  co-operation  with  France  to  maintain  the  treaty — 
that  is,  to  prevent  the  occupation  of  Schleswig.  Lord  Cowley 
writes  the  next  day  to  Lord  Russell  that  the  French  Govern- 
ment want  to  know  what  *  concert  and  co-operation '  mean.1 
Lord  Russell  at  last,  on  January  24,  writes  to  say  that  concert 
and  co-operation  mean,  'if  necessary,  material  assistance  to 
Denmark.'  That  must  have  been  about  the  same  time  when 
the  cabinet  was  sitting  to  draw  up  Her  Majesty's  speech,  assur- 
ing Parliament  that  negotiations  continued  to  be  carried  on  in 
the  interest  of  peace.  Now,  Sir,  what  was  the  answer  of  the 
French  Government  when,  at  last,  England  invited  her  to  go 
to  war  to  settle  the  questions  between  Germany  and  Denmark  ? 
I  will  read  the  reply  : — 

'  M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys,  after  recapitulating  the  substance 
of  my  despatch  of  January  24  to  your  Excellency,  explains  very 

1  This  is  the  statement  referred  to  at  page  102  as  having  been  made  only  a 
week  before  the  meeting  of  Parliament. 


118  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFJELD. 

clearly  the  views  of  the  French  Government  upon  the  subject.. 
The  Emperor  recognises  the  value  of  the  London  treaty  as. 
tending  to  preserve  the  balance  of  power  and  maintain  the- 
peace  of  Europe.  But  the  Government  of  France,  while  paying 
a  just  tribute  to  the  purport  and  objects  of  the  treaty  of  1852, 
is  ready  to  admit  that  circumstances  may  require  its  modi- 
fication. The  Emperor  has  always  been  disposed  to  pay  great 
regard  to  the  feelings  and  aspirations  of  nationalities.  It  is 
not  to  be  denied  that  the  national  feelings  and  aspirations  of 
Germany  tend  to  a  closer  connection  with  the  Germans  of 
Holstein  and  Schleswig.  The  Emperor  would  feel  repugnance 
to  any  course  which  should  bind  him  to  oppose  in  arms  the- 
wishes  of  Germany.  It  may  be  comparatively  easy  for  England 
to  carry  on  a  war  which  can  never  go  beyond  the  maritime 
operations  of  blockade  and  capture  of  ships.  Schleswig  and 
England  are  far  apart  from  each  other.  But  the  soil  of  Germany 
touches  the  soil  of  France,  and  a  war  between  France  and 
Germany  would  be  one  of  the  most  burdensome  and  one  of  the 
most  hazardous  in  which  the  French  Empire  could  engage. 
Besides  these  considerations,  the  Emperor  cannot  fail  to  re- 
collect that  he  has  been  made  an  object  of  mistrust  and  sus- 
picion in  Europe  on  account  of  his  supposed  projects  of 
aggrandisement  on  the  Rhine.  A  war  commenced  on  the 
frontiers  of  Germany  could  not  fail  to  give  strength  to  these 
unfounded  and  unwarrantable  imputations.  For  these  reasons, 
the  Government  of  the  Emperor  will  not  take  at  present  any 
engagement  on  the  subject  of  Denmark.  If,  hereafter,  the 
balance  of  power  should  be  seriously  threatened,  the  Emperor 
may  be  inclined  to  take  new  measures  in  the  interest  of  France 
and  of  Europe.  But  for  the  present  the  Emperor  reserves  to 
his  Government  entire  liberty.'  (No.  4,  620.) 

Well,  Sir,  I  should  think  that,  after  the  reception  of  thai 
despatch,  though  it  might  have  been  very  hard  to  convince  the 
Foreign  Secretary  of  the  fact,  any  other  person  might  easil) 
have  suspected  that  the  just  influence  of  England  was  lowerec 
in  another  quarter  of  Europe. 

Sir,  I  have  now  brought  events  to  the  period  when  Parlia- 
ment met,  trespassing,  I  fear,  too  much  on  the  indulgence  o 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY    1864.    119 

the  House ;  but  honourable  members  will  remember  that,  in 
order  to  give  this  narrative  to-day,  it  was  necessary  for  me  to 
peruse  1,500  printed  folio  pages,  and  I  trust  I  have  done  no 
more  than  advert  to  those  passages  to  which  it  was  requisite  to 
direct  attention  in  order  that  the  House  might  form  a  complete 
and  candid  opinion  of  the  case.  I  will  not  dwell,  or  only  for 
the  slightest  possible  time,  on  what  occurred  upon  the  meeting 
of  Parliament.  Sir,  when  we  met  there  were  no  papers :  and  I 
remember  that  when  I  asked  for  papers  there  was  not,  I  will 
frankly  say,  on  both  sides  of  the  House,  a  sufficient  sense  of  the 
very  great  importance  of  the  occasion,  and  of  the  singular  cir- 
cumstance that  the  papers  were  not  presented  to  us.  It  turned 
out  afterwards,  from  what  fell  from  the  Secretary  of  State  in 
another  place,  that  it  was  never  intended  that  the  papers  should 
be  presented  at  the  meeting  of  Parliament.  The  noble  lord  at 
the  head  of  the  Government  treated  the  inquiry  for  papers  in 
a  jaunty  way,  and  said,  *  Oh  !  you  shall  have  papers,  and  I  wisb 
you  joy  of  them.'  That  was  the  tone  of  the  First  Minister  in 
reference  to  the  most  important  diplomatic  correspondence  ever 
laid  before  Parliament  since  the  rupture  of  the  Treaty  of 
Amiens ;  but  we  are  all  now  aware  of  the  importance  of  these 
transactions.  It  was  weeks — months  almost — before  we  be- 
came masters  of  the  case,  but  during  the  interval  the  most 
disastrous  circumstances  occurred,  showing  the  increased  peril 
and  danger  of  Denmark,  and  the  successes  of  the  invaders  of 
her  territory.  We  all  remember  their  entrance  into  Jutland. 
We  all  remember  the  inquiries  which  were  made  on  the  sub- 
ject and  the  assurances  which  were  given.  But  it  was  impos- 
sible for  the  House  to  pronounce  any  opinion,  because  the  papers 
were  not  before  it,  and  the  moment  we  had  the  papers,  the 
Conference  was  announced. 

One  word  with  respect  to  the  Conference.  I  never  was  of 
opinion  that  the  Conference  would  arrive  at  any  advantageous 
result ;  I  could  not  persuade  myself,  after  reading  the  papers, 
that,  whatever  might  be  the  cause,  anyone  seriously  wished  for 
a  settlement,  except,  of  course,  Her  Majesty's  ministers,  and 
they  had  a  reason  for  it.  The  Conference  lasted  six  weeks. 
It  wasted  six  weeks.  It  lasted  as  long  as  a  carnival,  and,  like 


120  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD . 

a  carnival,  it  was  an  affair  of  masks  and  mystification.  Our 
ministers  went  to  it  as  men  in  distressed  circumstances  go  to 
a  place  of  amusement — to  while  away  the  time,  with  a  con- 
sciousness of  impending  failure.  However,  the  summary  of  the 
Conference  is  this,  that  Her  Majesty's  Government  made  two 
considerable  proposals.  They  proposed,  first,  the  dismember- 
ment of  Denmark.  So  much  for  its  integrity.  They  proposed, 
in  the  second  place,  that  the  remainder  of  Denmark  should  be 
placed  under  the  joint  guarantee  of  the  Great  Powers.  They 
would  have  created  another  Turkey  in  Europe,  in  the  same 
geographical  relation,  the  scene  of  the  same  rival  intrigues,  and 
the  same  fertile  source  of  constant  misconceptions  and  wars. 
So  much  for  the  independence  of  Denmark.  These  two  propo- 
sitions having  been  made,  the  one  disastrous  to  the  integrity 
and  the  other  to  the  independence  of  Denmark,  the  Conference, 
even  with  these  sacrifices  offered,  was  a  barren  failure. 

And  I  now  wish  to  ask — after  having,  I  hope,  with  some 
clearness  and  in  a  manner  tolerably  comprehensive,  placed  the 
case  before  honourable  members — what  is  their  opinion  of  the 
management  of  these  affairs  by  Her  Majesty's  Government  ? 
I  showed  you  that  the  beginning  of  this  interference  was  a 
treaty  by  which  England  entered  into  obligations  as  regards 
Denmark  not  different  from  those  of  France.  I  have  shown  you, 
on  the  evidence  of  the  Secretary  of  State,  that  the  present  posi- 
tion of  France  with  respect  to  Denmark  is  one  quite  magnani- 
mous, free  from  all  difficulties  and  disgrace.  I  have  shown  you,  I 
think,  what  every  man  indeed  feels,  that  the  position  of  England 
under  this  treaty,  on  the  contrary,  is  most  embarrassing,  sur- 
rounded with  difficulties,  and  full  of  humiliation.  I  have  stated 
my  opinion  that  the  difference  between  the  position  of  England 
and  that  of  France  arose  from  the  mismanagement  of  our 
affairs.  That  appeared  to  me  to  be  the  natural  inference  and 
logical  deduction.  I  have  given  you  a  narrative  of  the  manner 
in  which  our  affairs  have  been  conducted,  and  now  I  ask  you 
v/hat  is  your  opinion  ?  Do  you  see  in  the  management  of  those 
affairs  that  capacity,  and  especially  that  kind  of  capacity,  that 
is  adequate  to  the  occasion  ?  Do  you  find  in  it  that  sagacity, 
that  prudence,  that  dexterity,  that  quickness  of  perception,  and 


VOTE  OF  CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.    121 

those  conciliatory  moods  which  we  are  always  taught  to  believe 
necessary  in  the  transaction  of  our  foreign  affairs  ?  Is  there  to 
be  seen  that  knowledge  of  human  nature,  and  especially  that 
peculiar  kind  of  science,  most  necessary  in  these  affairs — an 
acquaintance  with  the  character  of  foreign  countries  and  of  the 
chief  actors  in  the  scene  ? 

Sir,  for  my  part  I  find  all  these  qualities  wanting ;  and  in 
consequence  of  the  want  of  these  qualities,  I  see  that  three 
results  have  accrued.  The  first  is  that  the  avowed  policy  of  Her 
Majesty's  Government  has  failed.  The  second  is,  that  our  just 
influence  in  the  councils  of  Europe  has  been  lowered.  Thirdly, 
in  consequence  of  our  just  influence  in  the  councils  of  Europe 
being  lowered,  the  securities  for  peace  are  diminished.  These 
are  three  results  which  have  followed  in  consequence  of  the  want 
of  the  qualities  to  which  I  have  alluded,  and  in  consequence  of 
the  management  of  these  affairs  by  the  Government.  Sir,  I 
need  not,  I  think,  trouble  the  House  with  demonstrating  that 
the  Government  have  failed  in  their  avowed  policy  of  upholding 
the  independence  and  integrity  of  Denmark.  The  first  result 
may  be  thrown  aside.  I  come  therefore  to  the  second.  By  the 
just  influence  of  England  in  the  councils  of  Europe  I  mean  an 
influence  contra-distinguished  from  that  which  is  obtained  by 
intrigue  and  secret  understanding ;  I  mean  an  influence  that 
results  from  the  conviction  of  foreign  Powers  that  our  resources 
are  great  and  that  our  policy  is  moderate  and  steadfast.  Since 
the  settlement  that  followed  the  great  revolutionary  war, 
England,  who  obtained  at  that  time — as  she  deserved  to  do,  for 
she  bore  the  brunt  of  the  struggle — who  obtained  at  that  time 
all  the  fair  objects  of  her  ambition,  has  on  the  whole  followed 
a  Conservative  foreign  policy.  I  do  not  mean  by  a  Conservative 
foreign  policy  a  foreign  policy  that  would  disapprove — still  less 
oppose — the  natural  development  of  nations.  I  mean  a  foreign 
policy  interested  in  the  tranquillity  and  prosperity  of  the  world, 
the  normal  condition  of  which  is  peace,  and  which  does  not  ally 
itself  with  the  revolutionary  party  of  Europe.  Other  countries 
have  their  political  systems  and  public  objects,  as  England  had, 
though  they  may  not  have  attained  them.  She  is  not  to  look 
upon  them  with  unreasonable  jealousy.  The  position  of 


122     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

England  in  the  councils  of  Europe  is  essentially  that  of  a 
moderating  and  mediatorial  Power.  Her  interest  and  her  policy 
are,  when  changes  are  inevitable  and  necessary,  to  assist  so  that 
these  changes,  if  possible,  may  be  accomplished  without  war, 
or,  if  war  occurs,  that  its  duration  and  asperity  may  be  lessened. 
That  is  what  I  mean  by  the  just  influence  of  England  in  the 
councils  of  Europe.  It  appears  to  me  that  just  influence  of 
England  in  the  councils  of  Europe  has  been  lowered.  Within 
twelve  months  we  have  been  twice  repulsed  at  St.  Petersburg. 
Twice  have  we  supplicated  in  vain  at  Paris.  We  have  menaced 
Austria,  and  Austria  has  allowed  our  menaces  to  pass  her  like 
the  idle  wind.  We  have  threatened  Prussia,  and  Prussia  has 
defied  us.  Our  objurgations  have  rattled  over  the  head  of  the 
German  Diet,  and  the  German  Diet  has  treated  them  with 
contempt. 

Again,  Sir,  during  the  last  few  months  there  is  scarcely  a 
form  of  diplomatic  interference  which  has  not  been  suggested 
or  adopted  by  the  English  Government — except  a  Congress. 
Conferences  at  Vienna,  at  Paris,  at  London,  all  have  been 
proposed ;  protocols,  joint  declarations,  sole  mediation,  joint 
mediation,  identic  notes,  sole  notes,  united  notes — everything 
has  been  tried.  Couriers  from  the  Queen  have  been  scouring 
Europe  with  the  exuberant  fertility  of  abortive  projects.  After 
the  termination  of  a  most  important  Conference,  held  in  the 
capital  of  the  Queen,  over  which  the  Chief  Minister  of  Her 
Majesty's  foreign  relations  presided,  and  which  was  attended 
with  all  the  pomp  and  ceremony  requisite  for  so  great  an  occasion, 
we  find  that  its  sittings  have  been  perfectly  barren ;  and  the  chief 
ministers  of  the  cabinet  closed  the  proceedings  by  quitting  the 
scene  of  their  exertions,  and  appearing  in  the  two  Houses  of 
Parliament  to  tell  the  country  that  they  have  no  allies,  and 
that,  as  they  have  no  allies,  they  can  do  nothing.  Pardon 
I  must  not  omit  to  do  justice  to  the  exulting  boast  of  the 
Secretary  of  State,  who,  in  the  midst  of  discomfiture,  fine 
solace  in  the  sympathy  and  politeness  of  the  neutral  Power 
I  do  not  grudge  Lord  Russell  the  sighs  of  Eussia  or  the  smiles 
of  France ;  but  I  regret  that,  with  characteristic  discretion,  he 
should  have  quitted  the  battle  of  the  Conference  only  to  take 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.    123 

his  seat  in  the  House  of  Lords  to  denounce  the  perfidy  of 
Prussia,  and  to  mourn,  over  Austrian  fickleness.  There  wanted 
but  one  touch  to  complete  the  picture,  and  it  was  supplied  by 
the  noble  lord  the  First  Minister. 

Sir,  I  listened  with  astonishment — I  listened  with  astonish- 
ment as  the  noble  lord  condemned  the  vices  of  his  victim,  and 
inveighed  at  the  last  moment  against  the  obstinacy  of  unhappy 
Denmark.  Denmark  would  not  submit  to  arbitration.  But  on 
what  conditions  did  the  German  Powers  accept  it?  And  what 
security  had  Denmark  that  if  in  the  Conference  she  could  not 
obtain  an  assurance  that  the  neutral  Powers  would  support  her 
by  force  on  the  line  of  the  Schlei — what  security,  I  say,  had 
she  that  any  other  line  would  be  maintained — an  unknown  line 
by  an  unknown  arbiter  ?  Sir,  it  does  appear  to  me  impossible 
to  deny,  under  these  circumstances,  that  the  just  influence  of 
England  in  the  councils  of  Europe  is  lowered.  And  now,  I 
ask,  what  are  the  consequences  of  the  just  influence  of  England 
in  the  councils  of  Europe  being  lowered  ?  The  consequences 
are- — to  use  a  familiar  phrase  in  the  despatches — '  most  serious,* 
because  in  exact  proportion  as  that  influence  is  lowered  the 
securities  for  peace  are  diminished.  I  lay  this  down  as  a  great 
principle,  which  cannot  be  controverted,  in  the  management  of 
our  foreign  affairs.  If  England  is  resolved  upon  a  particular 
policy,  war  is  not  probable.  If  there  is,  under  these  circum- 
stances, a  cordial  alliance  between  England  and  France, 
war  is  most  difficult ;  but  if  there  is  a  thorough  under- 
standing between  England,  France,  and  Russia,  war  is  impos- 
sible. 

These  were  the  happy  conditions  under  which  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  entered  office,  and  which  they  enjoyed  when  they 
began  to  move  in  the  question  of  Denmark.  Two  years  ago, 
and  even  less,  there  was  a  cordial  understanding  between 
England,  France,  and  Russia  upon  this  question  or  any  ques- 
tion which  might  arise  between  Germany  and  Denmark. 
What  cards  to  play !  What  advantages  in  the  management 
of  affairs  !  It  seemed,  indeed,  that  they  might  reasonably  look 
forward  to  a  future  which  would  justify  the  confidence  of 
Parliament ;  when  they  might  point  with  pride  to  what  they 


124  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

had  accomplished,  and  appeal  to  public  opinion  to  support 
them.  But  what  has  happened  ?  They  have  alienated  Eussia, 
they  have  estranged  France,  and  then  they  call  Parliament 
together  to  declare  war  against  Germany.  Why,  such  a  thing 
never  happened  before  in  the  history  of  this  country.  Nay, 
more,  I  do  not  think  it  can  ever  happen  again.  It  is  one  of 
those  portentous  results  which  occur  now  and  then  to 
humiliate  and  depress  the  pride  of  nations,  and  to  lower  our 
confidence  in  human  intellect.  Well,  Sir,  as  the  difficulties 
increase,  as  the  obstacles  are  multiplied,  as  the  consequences  of 
their  perpetual  errors  and  constant  mistakes  are  gradually 
becoming  more  apparent,  you  always  find  Her  Majesty's 
Government  nearer  war.  As  in  private  life  we  know  it  is  the 
weak  who  are  always  violent,  so  it  is  with  Her  Majesty's 
ministers.  As  long  as  they  are  confident  in  their  allies,  as  long 
as  they  possess  the  cordial  sympathy  of  the  great  Powers,  they 
speak  with  moderation,  they  counsel  with  dignity ;  but,  like  all 
incompetent  men,  when  they  are  in  extreme  difficulty  they  can 
see  but  one  resource,  and  that  is  force. 

When  affairs  cannot  be  arranged  in  peace  you  see  them 
turning  first  to  St.  Petersburg — that  was  a  bold  despatch  which 
was  sent  to  St.  Petersburg  in  January  last,  to  ask  Eussia  to 
declare  war  against  Germany — and  twice  to  Paris,  entreating 
that  violence  may  be  used  to  extricate  them  from  the  conse- 
quences of  their  own  mistakes.  It  is  only  by  giving  Govern- 
ment credit,  as  I  have  been  doing  throughout,  for  the  complete 
sincerity  of  their  expressions  and  conduct  that  their  behaviour 
is  explicable.  Assume  that  their  policy  was  a  war  policy,  and 
it  is  quite  intelligible.  Whenever  difficulties  arise,  their  resolu- 
tion is  instantly  to  have  recourse  to  violence.  Every  word  they 
utter,  every  despatch  they  write,  seems  always  to  look  to  a  scene 
of  collision.  What  is  the  state  of  Europe  at  this  moment? 
What  is  the  state  of  Europe  produced  by  this  management  of 
our  affairs  ?  I  know  not  what  other  honourable  gentlemen  may 
think,  but  it  appears  to  me  most  serious.  I  find  the  great 
German  Powers  openly  avowing  that  it  is  not  in  their  capacity 
to  fulfil  their  engagements.  I  find  Europe  impotent  to  vindicate 
public  law  because  all  the  great  alliances  are  broken  down  ;  and 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE— DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY   1864.    125 

I  find  a  proud  and  generous  nation  like  England  shrinking  with 
the  reserve  of  magnanimity  from  the  responsibility  of  com- 
mencing war,  yet  sensitively  smarting  under  the  impression  that 
her  honour  is  stained — stained  by  pledges  which  ought  not  to 
have  been  given,  and  expectations  which  I  maintain  ought 
never  to  have  been  held  out  by  wise  and  competent  statesmen. 

Sir,  this  is  anarchy.  It  therefore  appears  to  me  obvious 
that  Her  Majesty's  Government  have  failed  in  their  avowed 
policy  of  maintaining  the  independence  and  integrity  of  Den- 
mark. It  appears  to  me  undeniable  that  the  just  influence 
of  England  is  lowered  in  the  councils  of  Europe.  It  appears 
to  me  too  painfully  clear  that  to  lower  our  influence  is  to 
diminish  the  securities  of  peace.  And  what  defence  have  we  ? 
If  ever  a  criticism  is  made  on  his  ambiguous  conduct  the 
noble  lord  asks  me,  'What  is  your  policy?'  My  answer 
might  be  my  policy  is  the  honour  of  England  and  the  peace 
of  Europe,  and  the  noble  lord  has  betrayed  both.  I  can 
understand  a  minister  coming  to  Parliament  when  there  is  a 
question  of  domestic  interest  of  the  highest  character  for  con- 
sideration— such  as  the  emancipation  of  the  Catholics,  the 
principles  on  which  our  commercial  code  is  to  be  established  or 
our  representative  system  founded.  I  can  quite  understand — 
although  I  should  deem  it  a  very  weak  step — a  minister  saying, 
'  Such  questions  are  open  questions,  and  we  leave  it  to  Parlia- 
ment to  decide  what  is  to  be  our  policy.'  Parliament  is  in 
possession  of  all  the  information  on  such  subjects  that  is  neces- 
sary or  can  be  obtained.  Parliament  is  as  competent  to  come 
to  a  judgment  upon  the  emancipation  of  any  part  of  our  sub- 
jects who  are  not  in  possession  of  the  privileges  to  which  they 
are  entitled  ;  the  principles  on  which  a  commercial  code  is  to  be 
established  or  a  representative  system  founded  are  as  well 
known  to  them  as  to  any  body  of  men  in  the  world  ;  but  it  is 
quite  a  new  doctrine  to  appeal  to  Parliament  to  initiate  a 
foreign  policy. 

To  initiate  a  foreign  policy  is  the  prerogative  of  the  Crown, 
exercised  under  the  responsibility  of  constitutional  ministers. 
It  is  devised,  initiated,  and  carried  out  in  secrecy,  and  justly 
and  wisely  so.  What  do  we  know  as  to  what  may  be  going 


126     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

on  in  Downing  Street  at  this  moment?  We  know  not  what 
despatches  may  have  been  written,  or  what  proposals  may 
have  been  made,  to  any  foreign  Power.  'For  aught  I  know, 
the  noble  lord  this  morning  may  have  made  another  proposition 
which  may  light  up  a  general  European  war.  It  is  for  Parlia- 
ment to  inquire,  to  criticise,  to  support,  or  to  condemn  in  ques- 
tions of  foreign  policy ;  but  it  is  not  for  Parliament  to  initiate  a 
foreign  policy  in  absolute  ignorance  of  the  state  of  affairs. 
That  would  be  to  ask  a  man  to  set  his  house  on  fire.  I  will  go 
further.  He  is  not  a  wise,  I  am  sure  he  is  not  a  patriotic,  man 
who,  at  a  crisis  like  the  present,  would  accept  office  on  condi- 
tions. What  conditions  could  be  made  when  we  are  in  ignor- 
ance of  our  real  state  ?  Any  conditions  we  could  offer  in  a  vote 
of  the  House  of  Commons  carried  upon  a  particular  point  might 
be  found  extremely  unwise  when  we  were  placed  in  possession 
of  the  real  position  of  the  country.  No,  Sir,  we  must  not  allow 
Her  Majesty's  Government  to  escape  from  their  responsibility. 
That  is  at  the  bottom  of  all  their  demands  when  they  ask, 
*  What  is  your  policy  ?  '  The  very  first  night  we  met — on 
February  4 — we  had  the  same  question.  Parliament  was  called 
together  by  a  ministry  in  distress  to  give  them  a  policy.  But 
Parliament  maintained  a  dignified  and  discreet  reserve :  and 
you  now  find  in  what  a  position  the  ministry  are  placed  to-night. 
Sir,  it  is  not  for  any  man  in  this  House,  on  whatever  side  he 
sits,  to  indicate  the  policy  of  this  country  in  our  foreign  rela- 
tions— it  is  the  duty  of  no  one  but  the  responsible  ministers  of 
the  Crown.  The  most  we  can  do  is  to  tell  the  noble  lord  what 
is  not  our  policy.  We  will  not  threaten  and  then  refuse  to  act. 
We  will  not  lure  on  our  allies  with  expectations  we  do  not  fulfil. 
And,  Sir,  if  ever  it  be  the  lot  of  myself  or  any  public  men  with 
whom  I  have  the  honour  to  act  to  carry  on  important  negotia- 
tions on  behalf  of  this  country,  as  the  noble  lord  and  his 
colleagues  have  done,  I  trust  that  we  least  shall  not  carry  them 
on  in  such  a  manner  that  it  will  be  our  duty  to  come  to  Parlia- 
ment to  announce  to  the  country  that  we  have  no  allies,  and 
then  declare  that  England  can  never  act  alone.  Sir,  those  are 
words  which  ought  never  to  have  escaped  the  lips  of  a  British 
minister.  They  are  sentiments  which  ought  never  to  have 


VOTE   OF   CENSURE—DENMARK  AND   GERMANY,   JULY    1864.    127 

occurred  even  to  his  heart.  I  repudiate,  I  reject  them.  I 
remember  there  was  a  time  when  England,  with  not  a  tithe  of 
her  present  resources,  inspired  by  a  patriotic  cause,  triumphantly 
encountered  a  world  in  arms.  And,  Sir,  I  believe  now,  if  the 
occasion  were  fitting,  if  her  independence  or  her  honour  were 
assailed,  or  her  empire  endangered,  I  believe  that  England 
would  rise  in  the  magnificence  of  her  might,  and  struggle  trium- 
phantly for  those  objects  for  which  men  live  and  nations  flourish. 
But  I,  for  one,  will  never  consent  to  go  to  war  to  extricate 
ministers  from  the  consequences  of  their  own  mistakes.  It  is  in 
this  spirit  that  I  have  drawn  up  this  Address  to  the  Crown.  I 
have  drawn,  it  up  in  the  spirit  in  which  the  Eoyal  Speech  was 
delivered  at  the  commencement  of  the  session.  I  am  ready  to 
vindicate  the  honour  of  the  country  whenever  it  is  necessary, 
but  I  have  drawn  up  this  Address  in  the  interest  of  peace. 
Sir,  I  beg  leave  to  move  the  resolution  of  which  I  have  given 
notice. 


128  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD . 


ABYSSINIAN  EXPEDITION. 

[Speech  on  proposing  vote  of  thanks  to  Her  Majesty's  forces, 
July  2,  1868.  The  motion  was  seconded  by  Mr.  Gladstone,  who 
pronounced  a  high  panegyric  not  only  on  the  troops  but  also  on  the 
conduct  of  the  Government.] 

ME.  DISRAELI :  I  rise  to  move  that  the  thanks  of  the 
House  be  given  to  those  who  planned  and  accomplished 
one  of  the  most  remarkable  military  enterprises  of  this  century. 
When  the  invasion  of  Abyssinia  was  first  mooted,  it  was  de- 
nounced as  a  rash  enterprise,  pregnant  with  certain  peril  and 
probable  disaster.  It  was  described  indeed  as  one  of  the  most 
rash  undertakings  which  had  ever  been  recommended  by  a 
Government  to  Parliament.  The  country  was  almost  unknown 
to  us,  or  known  only  as  one  difficult  of  access,  and  very  deficient 
in  all  those  supplies  which  are  necessary  for  an  army.  Indeed, 
the  commander  of  this  expedition  had  to  commence  his  opera- 
tions by  forming  his  base  on  a  desolate  shore,  and  by  creating 
a  road  to  the  land  he  invaded  through  a  wall  of  mountains. 
Availing  himself  for  this  purpose  of  the  beds  of  exhausted 
torrents,  he  gradually  reached  a  lofty  table-land — wild  and  for 
the  most  part  barren — frequently  intersected  with  mountain 
ranges  of  great  elevation,  occasionally  breaking  into  ravines 
and  gorges  that  were  apparently  unfathomable.  Yet  over  this 
country,  for  more  than  300  miles,  the  command er-in-chief  guided 
and  sustained  a  numerous  host,  composed  of  many  thousands  of 
fighting  men,  as  many  camp  followers,  and  vast  caravans  of 
animals,  bearing  supplies,  more  numerous  than  both.  Over 
this  land  he  guided  cavalry  and  infantry,  and — what  is  perhaps 
the  most  remarkable  part  of  the  expedition — he  led  the 
elephants  of  Asia,  bearing  the  artillery  of  Europe,  over  African 


ABYSSINIAN   EXPEDITION,   JULY   1868.  129 

passes  which  might  have  startled  the  trapper  and  appalled  the 
hunter  of  the  Alps.  When  he  arrived  at  the  base  of  this 
critical  rendezvous,  he  encountered  no  inglorious  foe ;  and  if  the 
manly  qualities  of  the  Abyssinians  sank  before  the  resources  of 
our  warlike  science,  our  troops,  even  after  that  combat,  had  to 
scale  a  mountain  fortress,  of  which  the  intrinsic  strength  was 
such  that  it  may  be  fairly  said  it  would  have  been  impregnable 
to  the  whole  world  had  it  been  defended  by  the  man  by  whom 
it  was  assailed.  But  all  these  obstacles  and  all  these  difficulties 
and  dangers  were  overcome  by  Sir  Robert  Napier,  and  that 
came  to  pass  which  ten  years  ago  not  one  of  us  could  have 
imagined  even  in  his  dreams,  and  which  must,  under  all  the 
circumstances,  be  an  event  of  peculiar  interest  to  an  English- 
man— the  standard  of  St.  George  was  hoisted  on  the  mountains 
of  Rasselas.1  If  we  turn  from  the  conduct  of  the  expedition  to 
the  character  of  the  person  who  commanded  it,  I  think  it  must 
be  acknowledged  that  rarely  has  an  expedition  been  planned 
with  more  providence  and  executed  with  more  precision.  In 
connection  with  it  everything  seems  to  have  been  foreseen  and 
everything  supplied.  It  would  be  presumptuous  in  me  to 
dwell  on  the  military  qualities  of  the  commander ;  but  all  must 
recognise,  and  all  may  admire,  the  sagacity  and  the  patience, 
the  temper  and  the  resource,  invariably  exhibited.  I  shall, 
however,  perhaps  be  justified  in  calling  attention  to  the  rare 
union  of  diplomatic  ability  and  military  skill  in  the  conduct  of 
Sir  Robert  Napier.  Indeed,  I  do  not  think  a  public  man  has 
ever  shown  more  discretion  than  he  has  done.  Had  it  not 
been  for  his  management  of  men — not  merely  in  the  skilful 

1  Mr.  Justin  M'Carthy,  in  his  History  of  Our  Own  Times,  says,  the  idea 
that  Johnson  in  Rasselas  had  in  his  eye  the  actual  geographical  mountains  of 
Abyssinia,  made  all  England  smile.  Lord  Stanley  of  Alderley  has  called 
attention  to  the  fact  that  the  description  of  the  mountain  in  which  the 
Abyssinian  princes  were  confined,  given  by  Francesco  Alvarez,  in  his  narrative 
of  the  Portugese  Embassy  to  Abyssinia  (1520-1527),  a  work  which  his  lordship 
has  translated,  closely  corresponds  with  Johnson's  description  of  it  in  Rasselas, 
and  he  remarks  very  justly  that  as  Johnson's  first  work  was  a  translation  of 
A  Voyage  to  Abyssinia,  by  Lobo,  a  Portuguese  Jesuit,  it  is  clear  that  his  atten- 
tion had  been  drawn  to  that  country.  Boswell  himself  makes  a  similar 
remark ;  and  it  is  pretty  evident,  therefore,  that  those  who  laughed  at  the 
speech  laughed  too  soon. 

VOL.    II.  K 


130  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

handling  of  his  troops  on  an  exhausting  march,  but  in  the  way 
in  which  he  moulded  the  dispositions  of  the  native  princes — the 
result  might  have  been  different.  And  he  moulded  them  to 
his  purpose  without  involving  his  country  in  any  perilous  con- 
tract or  engagement.  Under  these  circumstances  I  am  sure 
the  House  will  heartily  offer  and  vote  its  thanks  to  this  distin- 
guished man.  It  has  been  said  by  the  greatest  soldier  who  ever 
nourished,  that — at  least  in  modern  times — that  the  thanks  of 
the  House  of  Commons  were  a  compliment  the  most  appreciated 
by  military  men,  and  that,  next  to  the  favour  of  their  Sovereign, 
the  acknowledgment  of  their  services  by  Parliament  was  the 
reward  which  they  most  valued.  I  have  no  doubt  that  Sir 
Eobert  Napier  is  influenced  by  those  feelings ;  but  the  House 
of  Commons  at  this  moment  will  remember  that  this  is  not  the 
first  time  nor  the  second  that  it  has  offered  to  him  its  thanks. 
Happy  is  the  man  who  has  been  twice  thanked  by  his  country ! 
By  his  splendid  achievements  in  Abyssinia,  Sir  Robert  Napier 
has  only  fulfilled  the  promise  of  the  plains  of  India,  and  con- 
summated his  exploits  on  the  Chinese  battlefield. 

It  is,  I  may  add,  not  the  least  interesting  part  of  our  busi- 
ness this  evening  to  recognise  the  merits  of  another  great 
branch  of  Her  Majesty's  forces.  The  army  and  navy  have 
rarely  acted  together  in  the  history  of  this  country  without 
successful  results ;  but  there  have  been,  I  think,  few  instances 
in  which  they  have  mutually  assisted  each  other  more  effectu- 
ally, and  in  which  their  combined  exertions  have  been  attended 
with  greater  success,  than  in  the  Abyssinian  Expedition.  I 
need  not  remind  the  House  how  much  depends  on  the  skill 
and  efficiency  with  which  the  transport  of  troops  and  stores  is 
conducted  in  such  an  undertaking.  But  I  may  recall  to  the 
recollection  of  the  House,  in  order  that  they  may  clearly  under- 
stand them,  the  very  great  difficulties  attending  the  expedition 
in  that  respect,  and  the  admirable  manner  in  which  those 
difficulties  were  surmounted.  The  number  of  vessels  employed 
amounted  to  no  fewer  than  300,  some  of  great  tonnage  collected 
from  all  parts  of  Her  Majesty's  dominions,  yet  all  brought  at 
the  right  moment  to  the  right  place,  under  the  superintendence 
of  Commodore  Heath.  The  exertions  of  the  navy  were  not, 


ABYSSINIAN   EXPEDITION,   JULY   1868.  131 

however,  limited  merely  to  this  important  branch  of  public 
service.  The  unknown  waters  of  Abyssinia  were  buoyed  and 
lighted  with  a  promptitude  and  certainty  which  cannot  be  too 
highly  praised,  and  which  were  of  the  utmost  importance  ;  and 
it  was  mainly  owing  to  the  great  exertions  of  the  navy,  that 
water,  on  which  the  success  of  the  expedition  greatly  depended, 
and  the  want  of  which  for  a  moment  threatened  the  successful 
accomplishment  of  the  expedition,  was  supplied. 

The  building  of  the  piers  and  the  establishing  of  the  con- 
densing machines  were  mainly  owing  to  the  exertions  of  the 
navy,  who  on  all  occasions  showed  the  utmost  willingness  to 
devote  their  labours  to  the  success  of  this  great  enterprise. 
But  it  was  not  to  the  mere  transport  of  troops,  not  to  the  mere 
buoying  and  lighting  of  Annesley  Bay,  or  the  mere  condensing 
of  water,  that  the  duties  and  labours  of  the  navy  were  limited. 
They  equipped  and  manned  a  most  efficient  corps,  which  took 
a  very  active  part  in  the  invasion  of  Abyssinia — the  Eocket 
Brigade.  They  were  present  on  that  great  march  during  which 
Sir  Eobert  Napier  handled  his  troops  with  so  much  dexterity— 
a  march  requiring  so  much  endurance  on  the  part  of  our  forces 
— and  they  joined  in  that  critical  operation,  the  scaling  of  the 
fortress  of  Magdala.  Therefore,  under  these  circumstances, 
"  the  House  will  offer  its  most  cordial  and  grateful  thanks  to 
Commodore  Heath,  who  commanded  the  naval  force. 

In  acknowledging  the  great  services  of  the  distinguished 
man  who  was  the  chief  commander  of  the  expedition,  and  of 
the  eminent  officer  who  commanded  the  navy,  we  must  not  be 
unmindful  of  the  conduct  of  the  men,  both  in  the  army  and  the 
navy.  I  think  we  may  fairly  say  that  the  conduct  of  the 
troops  and  sailors  was  alike  complete  and  admirable.  There 
have  been  instances,  no  doubt,  of  rapid  marches  and  triumphant 
fields,  which  have  occasioned  greater  sensation  at  the  moment, 
in  the  history  of  modern  times  ;  but  if  you  look  to  the  exhibi- 
tion of  military  virtue,  I  doubt  whether  the  qualities  of  patience, 
endurance,  and  good  temper,  manifested  under  the  most  trying 
circumstances,  have  ever  been  more  fully  exemplified.  I  doubt 
whether  the  force  of  disciplined  man  was  ever  more  successfully 
asserted.  There  was  shown  that  gallantry  on  which  we  can 

K  2 


132  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

always  count,  and  which  enables  our  forces  to  meet  any  dangers 
and  difficulties ;  but  what  was  the  most  admirable,  was  the 
endurance  and  docility  which  were  exemplified  by  the  troops, 
and  which  enhanced  the  glorious  result  of  the  operations.  The 
House,  therefore,  will,  I  am  sure,  acknowledge  in  a  manner 
most  grateful  to  the  men,  both  of  the  army  and  navy,  its  sense 
of  their  services,  and  will  take  means  by  which  that  sense 
shall  be  made  known  to  them  through  their  respective  com- 
manding officers,  making  mention  to  each  regiment  the  opinion 
of  the  House  with  reference  to  their  services  and  conduct. 
There  are  many  distinguished  officers  whose  services  they  must 
also  shortly  acknowledge,  and  whose  names  were  inserted  in  the 
resolution. 

Before  concluding,  I  would  venture  also  to  congratulate  the 
House  not  on  the  conduct  of  the  expedition,  of  which  I  have 
already  treated,  but  on  its  character.  When  it  was  first  an- 
nounced that  England  was  about  to  embark  on  a  most  costly 
and  perilous  expedition,  merely  to  vindicate  the  honour  of  our 
Sovereign  and  to  rescue  from  an  unjust  but  remote  captivity  a 
few  of  our  fellow  subjects,  the  announcement  was  received  in 
more  than  one  country  with  something  like  mocking  incredulity. 
But  we  have  asserted  the  purity  of  our  purpose.  In  an  age 
accused,  and  perhaps  not  unjustly,  of  selfishness,  and  a  too  great 
regard  for  material  interests,  it  is  something,  in  so  striking  and 
significant  a  manner,  for  a  great  nation  to  have  vindicated  the 
higher  principles  of  humanity.  It  is  a  privilege  to  belong  to  a 
country  which  has  done  such  deeds.  They  will  add  lustre  to 
the  name  of  this  nation,  and  will  beneficially  influence  the 
future  history  of  the  world. 


133 


BLACK  SEA  CONFERENCE.     February  24,  1871. ! 

[In  October  1870  Europe  was  startled  by  the  announcement  that 
one  of  the  leading  provisions  of  the  Treaty  of  Paris  of  1856  was 
about  to  be  abrogated  by  the  sole  action  of  that  Power  whose  schemes 
it  was  designed  to  check.  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan,  our  representative 
at  St.  Petersburg,  was  informed  by  Prince  Gortchakoff  that  his 
Imperial  master  did  not  intend  to  hold  himself  bound  any  longer  by 
the  articles  of  the  Treaty  which  secured  the  neutralisation  of  the 
Black  Sea.  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan,  after  transmitting  this  intelligence 
to  England,  waited  at  St.  Petersburg  for  instructions  to  demand  his 
passports.  The  English  Government,  instead  of  adopting  this  course, 
sent  an  Envoy  to  Prince  Bismarck  to  ask  his  advice  upon  the  subject. 
He  recommended  a  Conference ;  and  the  Conference  averted  war  by 
conceding  the  demands  of  Russia.  Mr.  Disraeli,  on  the  first  night 
of  the  session,  had  pointed  out  that  the  neutralisation  of  the  Black 
Sea  was  considered  of  the  highest  importance  by  the  statesmen  of 
1855,  and  that  the  negotiation  for  peace  at  Vienna  in  the  spring  of 
that  year  had  been  broken  off  exclusively  on  that  ground.  Mr.  Glad- 
stone seemed  inclined  to  doubt  whether  Lord  Clarendon  and  Lord 
Palmerston  had  attached  so  much  importance  to  this  point  as  Mr. 
Disraeli  represented,  but  admitted  subsequently  that  in  regard  to 
Lord  Clarendon  he  might  have  been  mistaken,  while  Lord  Palmer- 
ston's  own  speech  of  July  6,  1855,  sufficiently  shows  what  that  great 
statesman  thought  about  it.2  But  this  was  not  all.  When  Mr.  Odo 
Russell  first  saw  Prince  Bismarck  he  told  the  German  Chancellor  that 
the  question  was  of  such  a  nature  that,  as  it  then  stood,  '  England,  with 
or  without  allies,  would  have  to  go  to  war  with  Russia.'  Mr.  Gladstone 
declared  that  our  Envoy  had  no  authority  for  such  a  statement,  and 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Debates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

2  If  any  further  evidence  is  wanting  it  is  supplied  by  Mr.  Evelyn  Ashley's 
Life  of  Lord,  Palmerston,  vol.  ii.  pp.  85  and  105. 


134     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

added  that,  in  his  opinion,  the  -words  had  been  wrongly  attributed  to 
him,  and  had  really  been  uttered  by  Prince  Bismarck.  A  despatch 
from  Mr.  Russell,  received  three  weeks  afterwards,  declared  that  the 
words  were  his  own.] 

8 IE,  in  the  remarks — the  few  remarks  and  the  fewer  inquiries 
— I  am  about  to  make  respecting  the  Treaty  of  Paris  of 
1856,  it  is  not  my  intention,  or  my  wish,  to  enter  into  any 
discussion  as  to  the  great  principles  of  policy  involved  in  that 
subject.  A  more  important  theme  could  not  engage,  in  my 
opinion,  the  attention  of  Parliament ;  and  on  a  right  apprecia- 
tion of  all  the  circumstances  connected  with  it,  I  would  venture 
to  say  that  the  future  power  of  this  country  greatly  depends — 
/and,  more  than  that,  the  fortunes  of  no  inconsiderable  part  of 
the  globe.  But  a  subject  of  that  kind  is  not  to  be  treated  in  a 
casual  and  desultory  manner.  An  honourable  member  l  has 
x  already  given  notice  of  his  intention  to  bring  the  whole  ques- 
tion before  the  House,  and  I  have  no  doubt  that  the  House  will 
then  enter  into  the  discussion  with  that  interest  and  attention 
which  the  gravity  of  the  question  requires.  The  remarks  that 
I  am  about  to  make  are  rather  preparatory  to  a  discussion  of 
the  matter.  They  will  divest  the  theme  of  some  controversial 
details,  which,  if  not  now  treated,  would  only  embarrass  that 
greater  discussion  of  policy  which  is  involved  in  the  notice  that 
has  been  given.  Among  other  points  which  I  should  like  to 
decide  to-night,  would  be  to  ascertain,  for  example,  the  avowed 
object  of  the  Conference  that  is  now  sitting  in  London.  That 
subject  seems  involved  in  an  atmosphere  of  ambiguity.  The 
reasons  which  have  been  given  by  persons  in  authority  for  that 
Conference  appear  to  be  perplexed,  and,  in  a  certain  degree, 
contradictory.  The  whole  matter  seems  to  be  mixed  up  with 
so  much  mysterious  inconsistency,  that  I  thought  no  time 
should  be  lost  in  order  that  the  House  of  Commons  should  more 
precisely  and  accurately  ascertain  the  state  of  affairs  with  re- 
spect to  it.  I  therefore  took  the  earliest  opportunity  I  could 
of  giving  notice  on  that  subject  last  Friday  ;  but  I  was  not  so 
fortunate  as  to  be  able  to  bring  the  matter  before  the  considera- 
tion of  the  House. 

1  Sir  Charles  Dilke. 


ELACK  SEA   CONFERENCE,  FEBRUARY   1871.  135 

I  had  occasion  to  advert  to  the  subject  of  the  Treaty  of 
Paris  of  1856  in  some  remarks  I  made  on  the  first  night  of 
this  session,  on  the  meeting  of  the  House.  They  were  neces- 
sarily of  an  imperfect  character,  and,  from  the  view  which  I 
then  took,  it  was  not  possible  for  me  to  enter  into  any  detail 
with  respect  to  that  particular  treaty.  I  had  one  object,  and 
only  one  object,  in  making  those  remarks  on  the  first  night  of 
our  meeting.  I  thought  that,  considering  the  great  events — 
almost  unprecedented  in  importance — which  had  occurred  in 
the  interval  since  the  prorogation,  it  was  not  inexpedient  to 
draw  the  attention  of  the  House  to  their  great  consequences. 
I  wanted  to  impress  upon  the  House  that  in  the  interval,  in 
consequence  of  those  events,  there  had  been  a  great  revolution 
in  all  our  diplomatic  relations — that  all  the  principles  and 
traditions  with  respect  to  external  affairs  had  become  obsolete 
— that  the  balance  of  power  in  Europe  was  destroyed — that  in 
consequence  of  that  balance  of  power  being  destroyed,  there 
had  been  a  repudiation  of  treaties  by  several  States,  and  that  of 
all  existing  countries  the  one  which  would  most  suffer  by  any 
diminution  of  diplomatic  morality  and  any  violation  of  public 
law  would  be  our  own.  That  was  the  object  I  had  in  making 
those  remarks,  and,  as  they  necessarily  extended  over  a  variety 
of  instances,  it  was  not  possible  for  me  to  dwell  in  any  minute 
detail  upon  any  particular  treaty.  Nevertheless,  with  regard  to 
the  treaty  of  1856, 1  did  venture  to  make  more  than  one  ob- 
servation  as  to  its  character.  I  said  distinctly  with  regard  to 
that  treaty,  that  Russia,  in  repudiating  the  conditions  of  the 
treaty  which  referred  to  the  neutral  character  of  the  Black  Sea, 
had,  in  fact,  repudiated  the  very  gist  of  the  whole  subject — 
the  essence  of  the  treaty  ;  and  that,  in  fact,  that  was  the  ques-, 
tion  for  which  we  had  struggled  and  made  great  sacrifices,  and 
endured  those  sufferings  which  never  can  be  forgotten. 

Sir,  I  did  not  think  it  necessary  to  enter  into  any  demon- 
stration of  such  a  position,  even  if  I  had  the  opportunity.  I 
knew  well  that  I  was  speaking  to  a  House  of  Commons,  of  which 
even  now  a  majority  of  the  members  were  members  of  Parlia- 
ment during  the  Crimean  War,  and  were  perfectly  acquainted 
'thijill  the  circumstances  which  preceded,  accompanied,  and  ter- 


1 36  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

minated  that  great  struggle.  The  House,  therefore,  I  assumed 
was  perfectly  aware  that  after  that  war  had  been  waged  one 
whole  year,  Eussia  intimated  her  desire  to  come  to  some  under- 
standing with  her  opponents.  The  Government  of  Austria  in 
1855 — the  Government  which,  when  I  described  as  neutral,  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  disputed  the  accuracy  of  that  defi- 
nition, but  which  I  find  mentioned  in  official  documents  of 
1855  as  a  Government  friendly  to  both  parties,  to  the  allies  and 
to  Kussia — the  Government  of  Austria  interfered  with  a  view 
to  bring  about  a  pacification.  I  will  treat  the  circumstances 
with  extreme  brevity ;  but  it  is  necessary  that  I  should  place 
them  clearly  before  the  House.  After  some  communications  it 
was  ascertained  that  peace  might  probably  be  successfully 
negotiated  on  four  points — those  celebrated  four  points  which 
honourable  gentlemen  may  still  recollect.  The  first  point 
referred  to  the  government  of  the  principalities.  The  second 
to  the  free  navigation  of  the  Danube.  The  third  point  was  that 
some  means  were  to  be  invented  for  terminating  the  naval 
supremacy  of  Kussia  in  the  Black  Sea.  The  fourth  point  re- 
ferred to  the  future  protection  of  the  Christian  subjects  of  the 
Porte. 

A  Conference  was  held  at  Vienna — Russia  having  inti- 
mated that  she  was  prepared  to  negotiate  on  these  four  points 
— that  is  to  say,  having  admitted  the  principle  which  these 
four  points  embodied.  The  result  of  the  negotiations  was 
shortly  this :  The  first  two  points,  as  framed  by  the  allies,  were, 
after  discussion,  admitted  by  Russia.  The  fourth  point,  which 
referred  to  the  protection  of  the  Christian  subjects  of  the  Porte, 
was  never  brought  under  formal  discussion  at  the  Conference ; 
but  Russia  privately  intimated  that  she  would  accede  to  that 
fourth  proposition,  and  so  no  difficulty  arose  in  that  case.  But 
with  regard  to  the  third  point,  when  the  Conference  had  to 
decide  upon  the  means  by  which  the  naval  supremacy  of  Russia 
was  to  be  terminated  in  the  Black  Sea,  great  difficulties  arose. 
It  appears  that  Russia  having  admitted  the  principle  of  the 
third  point,  the  allies,  with  great  courtesy,  and  I  think  wisdom, 
suggested  that  Russia  should  herself  propose  the  me 
which  that  result  should  be  attained.  But,  after  waith ; 


BLACK   SEA   CONFERENCE,   FEBRUARY   1871.  137 

instructions  from  St.  Petersburg,  the  Eussian  negotiators 
declined  to  do  that ;  and,  therefore,  the  proposition  of  the  allies 
for  establishing  the  neutral  character  of  the  Black  Sea  was 
brought  forward,  and  that  proposition,  after  considerable  delay, 
and  after  waiting  again  for  instructions  from  St.  Petersburg, 
was  utterly  rejected  by  Russia. 

The  state  of  affairs,  then,  was  this — Russia  had  consented 
formally  to  the  first  two  propositions,  and  privately  to  the  fourth. 
The  government  of  the  principalities,  the  free  navigation  of 
the  Danube,  the  due  protection  of  the  Christian  subjects  of  the 
Porte,  not  by  one  Power,  but  by  all  the  Powers — these  points 
were  all  conceded ;  and  the  point  upon  which  the  negotiations  for 
peace  were  broken  off  was  the  neutral  character  of  the  Black  Sea. 
A  great  responsibility,  therefore,  rested  upon  the  negotiators  of 
the  allies,  and  especially  upon  the  English  Government,  which 
took  so  eminent  a  lead  in  these  negotiations.  Was  the  war  to  be 
continued  ?  Was  immense  treasure  to  be  further  expended,  and 
great  sacrifices  of  human  life  to  be  incurred,  for  this  unsettled 
point — the  neutralisation  of  the  Black  Sea  ?  It  was  an  awful 
responsibility,  no  doubt,  to  decide  on  this  point ;  but  respon- 
sibility in  a  free  State  is  not,  or  should  not  be,  a  source  of  annoy- 
ance to  individuals,  but  rather  of  honourable  pride ;  and  it 
would  be  well  for  the  House  to  remember,  so  far  as  this  country 
is  concerned,  who  were  the  statesmen  upon  whom  this  great 
responsibility  peculiarly  devolved.  The  Prime  Minister  of  this 
country  then  was  Lord  Palmerston  ;  who,  however  some  of  his 
last  feats  of  foreign  policy  may  be  questioned,  must  be  admitted 
by  all  to  be  a  man  who  had  a  most  vigorous  perception  of  what 
were  the  interests  and  duties  of  this  country,  and  who  at  that 
time  was  unquestionably  in  the  full  exercise'  of  his  powers,  and 
with  no  apparent  diminution  of  that  decision  and  that  spirit 
with  which  he  had  always  conducted  our  foreign  affairs.  The 
Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  was  that  distinguished 
obleman  whom  the  right  honourable  gentleman  (Mr.  Glad- 
stone) invited  more  than  two  years  ago  to^  assist  him  by  his 
experience — Lord  Clarendon.  The  negotiator  who  represented 
this  country  at  Vienna  was  a  nobleman  who  was  a  member  of 
this  House  for  nearly  half  a  century — who  has  the  largest  expe- 


138  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD . 

rience  of  public  affairs  of  any  individual  of  our  time,  who  has 
occupied  every  office,  from  Paymaster  of  the  Forces  to  President 
of  the  Council,  and  who  had  been  for  seven  years  Prime  Minister 
of  England — Earl  Kussell. 

These  were  the  men  upon  whom,  so  far  as  this  country 
was  concerned,  peculiarly  devolved  the  responsibility  of  deciding 
whether,  under  the  circumstances,  the  war  should  be  pursued. 
They  did  not  hesitate,  in  order  to  obtain  the  neutrality  of  the 
Black  Sea,  as  it  is  expressed  in  the  Treaty  of  Paris,  negotiated 
the  following  year,  to  recommend  their  Sovereign  to  prose- 
cute the  war,  and  not  to  cease  until  the  allies  had  effected 
a  settlement  similar  to  that  which  Russia  had  rejected.  Well, 
the  war  continued  another  year—  and  the  House  and  the 
country  have  never  forgotten  the  circumstances — great  glory 
and  honour  to  the  allies  and  to  Eussia  also,  much  exhibition  of 
heroic  conduct  on  both  sides,  and  on  both  sides,  no  doubt, 
unprecedented  suffering.  In  the  course  of  another  year  Russia 
was  exhausted,  and  the  Treaty  of  Paris  was  negotiated.  And 
what  was  that  treaty  ?  Russia  was  exhausted ;  but  the  allies, 
victorious  and  triumphant,  though  they  had  incurred  immensely 
increased  expenditure,  and  endured  aggravated  sacrifices  of  life, 
did  not  demand  from  Russia  the  Crimea,  which  they  might 
have  restored  to  Turkey.  They  did  not  demand  any  indemnity 
for  the  expenses  of  the  war.  All  the  points  in  that  treaty, 
except  the  neutrality  of  the  Black  Sea,  had  been  offered  by 
Russia  at  Vienna  in  the  preceding  year,  and  therefore  had 
,  been  obtained  by  our  negotiators  in  the  first  instance ;  but  as 
I  a  full  satisfaction,  as  a  settlement  that  completely  justified  the 
great  exertions  and  sacrifices  that  had  been  incurred,  as  a 
settlement  which  they  believed  would  secure  the  peace  of  the 
world,  so  far  as  that  portion  of  it  was  concerned,  they  insisted 
that  the  neutrality  of  the  Black  Sea  should  be  accomplished. 

Now,  Sir,  having  touched — I  hope  accurately — upon  these 
important  facts,  and  recalled  them — I  trust  not  without  con- 
venience as  regards  future  discussion,  I  would  venture  to  ask, 
Was  I  not  justified  in  my  statement  the  first  night  of  the 
session  that  the  neutrality  of  the  Black  Sea  was  the  very  basis 
and  gist  of  the  Peace  of  Paris  of  1856 — that  it  was  the  main 


BLACK  SEA   CONFEKENCE,   FEBKUAEY   1871.  139 

object  of  the  war,  the  great  result  for  the  accomplishment  of 
wtiich  this  country  and  France  and  their  allies  made  the  vast 
sacrifices  of  life  and  treasure  now  so  freely  acknowledged  ? 
That  being  the  case,  I  asked  myself,  Had  we  any  reason  to 
believ7e  that  the  policy  of  England  had  ever  changed?  I 
believed  myself  it  had  not  changed,  I  believe  that  it  cannot 
change.  But  when  I  spoke  the  first  night  of  the  session  we 
were  not  in  possession  of  papers  which  have  since  been  placed 
upon  the  table.  Now,  what  do  these  .  papers  show  with 
reference  to  this  policy  ?  We  find  in  those  papers  a  despatch 
from  the  Queen's  ambassador  at  St.  Petersburg;  and  what 
does  he  say  ?  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan  writes  to  the  Secretary  of 
State,  Lord  Grranville,  and  mentions  that  he  had  long  foreseen 
that  Russia  would  attempt  a  revision  of  the  treaty  of  1856, 
and  that  he  had  frequently  expressed  that  opinion  to  his  lord- 
ship and  to  the  late  Earl  of  Clarendon.  From  these  papers  it 
appears  that  what  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan  had  long  foreseen  did 
at  last  occur,  and,  though  he  had  for  some  time  avoided  touch- 
ing on  the  subject  with  the  Russian  minister,  he  is  at  last 
obliged  to  encounter  the  disclosure  which  he  had  so  long 
dreaded.  And  what  were  the  expressions  which  were  used  on 
that  occasion  by  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan  to  Prince  Gortchakoff? 
He  stated  to  the  Russian  minister  that  he  had  the  most  serious 
apprehensions  as  to  the  light  in  which  the  report  would  be 
viewed  by  Her  Majesty's  Government,  and  that  he  should 
expect  to  receive  orders  immediately  to  ask  for  his  passports 
and  to  quit  St.  Petersburg. 

Now,  I  ask  the  House  to  bear  in  mind  that  Sir  Andrew 
Buchanan  is  one  of  the  most  experienced  members  of  the  dip- 
lomatic service.  He  has  been  engaged  to  my  knowledge  for 
forty  years  in  posts  of  important  trust;  for  I  recollect  that 
when  I  was  at  Constantinople  in  1830  he  was,  if  I  mistake 
not,  Secretary  to  the  Embassy ;  and  he  is  a  man  of  ability 
and  sagacity,  as  well  as  of  discretion.  Can  it  be  doubted, 
then,  that,  having  frequently  expressed  to  Lord  Granville  and 
Lord  Clarendon  his  apprehension  of  the  danger  which  he  fore- 
saw, these  distinguished  statesmen  had  furnished  him  with 
instructions  as  to  the  tone  he  should  adopt  when  the  disclosure 


140  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

was  made,  and  the  language  which  he  should  use  ?  And  that 
the  language  used  by  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan  was  language 
strictly  in  accordance  with  the  instructions  which  he  received, 
no  one  who  knows  him  can  for  a  moment  doubt.  That  is  a 
proof,  therefore,  in  these  papers  that  the  policy  of  England, 
with  reference  to  this  question,  had  not  undergone  a  change. 
But  they  furnish  us,  on  that  head,  with  another  proof.  Her 
Majesty's  ministers  in,  the  difficult  position  in  which  they  were 
placed  through  the  repudiation  by  Eussia  of  the  condition  of 
the  Treaty  of  Paris  which  refers  to  the  Black  Sea,  took  a  step 
which,  on  this  occasion,  I  will  not  criticise.  I  reserve  any  such 
criticism  for  that  larger  debate  which  is  impending — but  I  may 
now  at  least  observe  that  it  seems  to  me  to  be  one  of  the  most 
remarkable  steps  ever  taken  by  a  Government.  They  resolved 
on  sending  a  special  envoy  to  Count  Bismarck. 

Now,  I  am  not  quarrelling  with  the  Government,  because, 
in  a  position  of  great  difficulty,  they  decided  on  sending  a  special 
envoy  to  what  may  be  called  the  Prussian  Court.  I  can  easily 
conceive  adequate  reasons  why  Her  Majesty's  ambassador  at 
Berlin  should  not  leave  the  seat  of  his  labours.  Nor  am  I  here 
to  quarrel  with  the  selection  made  by  the  Government  for  the 
post.  It  is  said  that  one  of  the  tests  of  competency  to  fill  the 
office  of  Prime  Minister  is  the  capacity  for  fixing  on  the  right 
man  for  any  public  appointment,  and  I  do  not  challenge  for  a 
moment  the  propriety  of  selecting  Mr.  Odo  Russell  in  this 
particular  instance.  He  may  not  have  the  experience  of  Sir 
Andrew  Buchanan,  and  for  a  reason  with  which  I  am  sure  he 
will  find  no  fault — because  he  is  a  younger  man.  But  Mr. 
Odo  Eussell  has,  nevertheless,  had  great  experience  in  diplo- 
macy. He  has  had  questions  entrusted  to  him  at  a  post  where 
they  were  both  critical  and  delicate  ;  and,  so  far  as  I  am 
acquainted  with  his  conduct,  has,  upon  all  occasions,  proved 
himself  to  be  a  man  to  whose  judgment  and  knowledge  might 
be  safely  committed  the  interests  of  his  country.  Mr.  Odo 
Russell,  moreover,  was  not  abroad — and  that  was  an  additional 
reason  why  he  should  be  selected  as  a  special  envoy  to  Ver- 
sailles. He  had  been  recalled  from  his  diplomatic  appoint 
ment,  and  promoted  to  a  post  in  the  Foreign  Office  of  th( 


BLACK  SEA  CONFEKENCE,   FEBEUAEY   1871.  141 

highest  trust  and  importance.  He  was  the  right  hand  man  of 
the  Secretary  for  Foreign  Affairs,  and  was  in  daily  communi- 
cation with  his  chief.  Now,  honourable  gentlemen  must  see  at 
once  of  how  much  consequence  it  is,  when  you  have  a  special 
envoy  who  is  to  execute,  under  extraordinary  circumstances, 
business  of  the  most  delicate  and  difficult  kind,  he  should  be  a 
man  with  whom  the  minister  is  in  personal  connection,  so  that  he 
should  not  have  to  depend  merely  on  written  instructions  pre- 
pared for  the  special  occasion  ;  but  an  envoy  who — fresh  from 
frequent  intercourse  with  the  Secretary  of  State  and  the  head 
of  the  Government — should  set  out  upon  his  mission  thoroughly 
impressed  and  impregnated  with  their  policy  and  their  views, 
and  thoroughly  acquainted  with  their  resources  to  meet  all 
contingencies.  Under  such  circumstances,  we  could  hope  and 
expect  that  its  interests  would  be  faithfully  represented  and 
attended  to. 

Now,  what  happened  in  the  case  of  Mr.  Odo  Russell,  our 
special  envoy  under  such  favourable  circumstances,  and  person- 
ally so  well  qualified  as  he  was  for  the  post  ?  He  left  England 
late  in  November,  and  it  was  some  time  before  he  succeeded  in 
arriving  at  Versailles,  owing  to  the  difficulties  of  travelling 
through  the  seat  of  war.  He,  however,  arrived  at  Versailles  at 
last,  and  lost  no  time  in  placing  himself  in  communication  with 
Count  Bismarck.  There  is,  in  these  papers,  an  interesting 
narrative  of  what  occurred  on  that  memorable  occasion.  Mr. 
Odo  Russell  was  twice  closeted  with  Count  Bismarck  in  the 
course  of  the  day.  He  saw  him  in  the  morning,  and,  in  conse- 
quence of  what  then  passed,  Count  Bismarck  communicated 
with  St.  Petersburg.  He  saw  him  again  at  ten  o'clock  in  the 
evening,  and  was  closeted  with  him  until  midnight.  Now, 
Mr.  Odo  Russell  having,  after  much  trouble  and  pains,  obtained 
the  interview  which  he  sought  for,  did,  I  have  no  doubt,  full 
justice  to  his  mission,  and  spoke  with  that  adroitness  and 
judgment  which  became  the  representative  of  the  interests  of 
this  country,  instructed  by  the  highest  authorities  of  the  State. 
Well,  what  did  Mr.  Odo  Russell  say  to  Count  Bismarck  ?  He 
pressed  for  a  settlement  of  a  question  which,  as  he  informs  us, 
he  had  frankly  proved  to  Count  Bismarck  was  of  a  nature,  in  its 


142  SPEECHES   OF   THE   EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

present  state,  to  compel  us,  with  or  without  allies,  to  go  to  war 
with  Eussia.  I  ask  the  House  again,  Was  I  not  justified  in  the 
statement  which  I  made  on  the  first  night  of  the  session,  that 
the  question  of  the  Black  Sea  was  the  real  question  which 
was  involved  in  the  Treaty  of  Paris  ?  Have  I  not  proved  to 
the  House  that  this  was  the  view  of  eminent  statesmen  like 
Lord  Palmerston,  Lord  Clarendon,  and  Lord  Eussell,  who  were 
engaged  in  the  negotiations  at  Paris  and  Vienna  ?  And  have 
we  not  primd  facie  evidence  that  on  the  22nd  of  November  last 
this  was  the  confirmed  policy  of  the  English  Cabinet — the  policy 
of  such  men  as  Lord  Clarendon  and  Lord  Granville  ?  I  was,  I 
must  confess,  astonished  to  learn,  having  these  papers  before 
us,  from  the  highest  authority,  that  Mr.  Odo  Kussell  made  the 
representation  to  which  I  have  just  referred  to  Count  Bismarck 
without  the  sanction  of  the  Grovernment.  I  have  heard  many 
remarkable  things  this  session,  which,  although  it  has  but  just 
commenced,  promises  to  be  rife  with  interest.  We  heard  last 
night,  for  example,  that  on  Monday  next  a  secret  committee 
is  to  be  moved  for,  in  order  to  discover  for  the  Government 
how  to  govern  regenerated  Ireland.  How  to  govern  regenerated 
Ireland !  when  we  thought  that  we  had  employed  the  last  two 
sessions  in  perfecting  that  exalted  and  sublime  legislation 
which  was  not  only  to  cure  the  evils  of  the  past,  but  which 
even  anticipated  the  remedies  for  the  future  !  It  seems  to  me, 
I  must  confess,  that  our  Irish  legislation  is  somewhat  like  our 
Crimean  treaties,  which  assume  a  different  character  to  that 
contemplated  when  they  were  originated.  I  heard  also  this 
session — and  I  look  upon  it  as  one  of  the  most  remarkable 
things  of  which  I  have  any  recollection — that  a  functionary  l 
who  sought  to  publish  a  correspondence  connected  with  his 
department,  which  he  not  only  believed  to  be  necessary  to 
vindicate  his  character,  but  to  be  of  the  greatest  interest  to 

1  Sir  Spencer  Robinson,  who  was  Controller  of  the  Navy  at  the  time  of  the 
loss  of  the  '  Captain.'  A  dispute  arose  between  himself  and  Mr.  Childers, 
then  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  as  to  the  responsibility  for  this  disaster. 
It  ended  in  the  dismissal  of  Sir  Spencer ;  and  when  he  asked  Mr.  Gladstone 
to  be  allowed  to  publish  the  correspondence,  he  received  the  above  answer, 
for  which,  however,  it  is  only  fair  to  say  that  Mr.  Gladstone  had  his  own 
explanation. 


BLACK  SEA  CONFERENCE,  FEBRUARY  1871.       143 

the  country,  received  permission  to  do  so,  provided  he  changed 
the  dates.  [Mr.  Gladstone :  Hear,  hear !]  Yes ;  that  was  a 
thing  that  certainly  surprised  me,  and  I  am  glad  to  see  that 
the  right  honourable  gentleman  agrees  with  me  at  least  on 
that  point. 

Secret  committees  and  such  frank  permissions  are  certainly 
surprising  things  ;  but  I  cannot  help  regarding  it  as  more 
surprising  still  that  a  special  envoy  should  be  selected  at 
such  a  critical  moment — himself  admirably  adapted,  as  nobody 
will  deny,  for  the  post,  and  with  the  immense  advantage  of 
being  fresh  from  interviews  with  Ministers  of  State,  and  of 
receiving  in  person  instructions  from  his  chief — and  that  he 
should  be  sent  on  one  of  the  most  trying  occasions  not  only  in 
the  history  of  his  own  country,  but  of  Europe,  not  farther  than 
Versailles,  and  should,  the  very  first  moment  he  encounters  the 
great  opponent  with  whom  he  had  to  deal,  immediately  take  a 
course  which  his  instructions  did  not  justify.  [Mr.  Gladstone : 
I  never  said  that.']  The  right  honourable  gentleman  will, 
perhaps,  by-and-by  notice  the  observations  which  I  am  making. 
I  heard  what  fell  from  him  on  a  former  night,  and  I  was 
certainly  under  the  impression  that — to  use  a  phrase  which, 
though  vernacular,  is  perhaps  scarcely  fit  to  be  employed 
within  these  walls — Mr.  Odo  Kussell  was  '  thrown  over '  by  the 
right  honourable  gentleman.  If  it  be  a  mistake,  I  believe  it  is 
a  mistake  which"  was  shared  by  both  sides  of  the  House.  I 
understood  the  right  honourable  gentleman  distinctly  to  say,  in 
answer  to  a  distinct  inquiry,  that  Mr.  Odo  Eussell  had  no 
authority  to  make  that  representation. 

There  is  one  more  observation  I  wish  to  make  with  regard  to 
Mr.  Odo  Russell.  For  a  special  envoy  to  declare  to  a  foreign 
minister  that,  with  or  without  allies,  we  were  prepared  to  go  to 
war  fora  particular  object,  is  one  of  the  most  decided  announce- 
ments ever  made  upon  political  affairs.  Admit  that  he  had  no 
authority  to  make  the  declaration —  an  admission  which  is  over- 
whelming in  its  incredibility — why  was  no  despatch  written  by 
the  Secretary  of  State  to  contradict  the  declaration  ?  Why  was 
no  printed  record  made  with  the  frankness  becoming  an  English 
Government,  so  that  the  indiscretion  of  the  special  agent  should 


144  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

not  be  concealed  from  us  ?  Why  do  we  not  learn  that,  at  the 
moment  when  Her  Majesty's  Government  heard  of  such  an 
announcement,  the  special  envoy  was  told  by  a  flash  of  light- 
ning that  he  had  exceeded  his  authority  ?  Sir,  there  is  not  a 
line,  not  a  scrap,  not  a  jot  to  this  effect ;  and  until  the  inquiry 
was  made  and  the  answer  given  by  the  right  honourable 
gentleman,  no  one  doubted  for  a  moment,  looking  to  the 
character  of  the  official  papers,  that  the  declaration  was  made 
by  authority,  and  that  Mr.  Odo  Russell  was  sent  to  Count 
Bismarck  to  make  it. 

I  have  now,  Sir,  placed  before  the  House  these  remarks, 
the  object  of  which  is  to  show,  first,  that  I  was  entirely  justi- 
fied in  the  description  I  gave  of  the  condition  relating  to  the 
neutrality  of  the  Black  Sea  in  the  Treaty  of  Paris  on  the  first 
night  of  the  session — that  it  was  the  cardinal  point  of  British 
policy ;  that  it  was  always  so  considered ;  that  for  it,  and  for  it 
alone,  the  war  was  continued,  and  the  greatest  sacrifices  made. 
I  think  I  have  also  shown,  from  the  papers  furnished  us  by  the 
Government,  that  until  within  a  brief  space — which  we  shall 
probably  hear  more  about  on  another  occasion — the  cabinet 
was  faithful  and  firm  to  this  policy,  and  that  men  of  the  vast 
experience  of  our  ambassador  at  the  Court  of  St.  Petersburg, 
and  the  great  ability  of  our  special  envoy  at  the  Court  of 
Versailles,  were  instructed — and,  I  think,  admirably  instructed 
— how  to  treat  such  a  violation  of  the  law  of  nations  and  of 
public  morality.  And  now,  Sir,  having,  I  hope,  placed  this 
matter  fairly  before  the  House,  let  me  advert  to  the  remark- 
able manner  in  which  my  observations  upon  that  head  were 
met  by  the  right  honourable  gentleman  on  the  first  night  of 
the  session.  I  had  endeavoured  to  recall  to  the  recollection  of 
the  House  the  vital  importance  of  the  neutralisation  of  the 
Black  Sea.  I  did  not  enter  into  any  proof  of  a  policy  which  I 
believe  was  supported  by  the  people  of  this  country,  and  by 
the  majority  of  the  House,  and  upon  which  it  appeared  to  me 
it  was  then  far  from  necessary  to  enter  into  any  controversy. 
I  was  content  to  confine  myself  to  an  opinion  as  to  the  vit 
importance  of  the  neutralisation  of  the  Black  Sea-  What  saic 
the  right  honourable  gentleman  ?  Lest  I  may  be  accused  of 


BLACK  SEA  CONFERENCE,  FEBRUARY   1871.  145 

inaccuracy,  I  avail  myself  of  a  memorandum  containing,  I  be- 
lieve, an  accurate  report  of  the  statement  made  by  the  right 
honourable  gentleman.  He  entirely  joined  issue  with  me  as  to 
the  vital  importance  of  the  neutralisation  of  the  Black  Sea. 
He  said  :  '  That  was  never,  as  far  as  I  know,  the  view  of 
the  British  Government.'  The  right  honourable  gentleman 
said : — 

<In  this  House,  in  the  year  1856,  I  declared  my  confident 
conviction  that  it  was  impossible  to  maintain  the  neutralisa- 
tion of  the  Black  Sea.  I  do  not  speak  from  direct  communica- 
tion with  Lord  Clarendon ;  but  I  have  been  told  since  his  death 

lat  he  never  attached  value  to  that  neutralisation.  Again,  I 
do  not  speak  from  direct  communication,  but  I  have  been  told 
that  Lord  Palmerston  always  looked  upon  the  neutralisation  as 
m  arrangement  which  might  be  maintained  and  held  together 
for  a  limited  number  of  years,  but  which,  from  its  character,  it 
fas  impossible  to  maintain  as  a  permanent  condition  for  a 

reat  settlement  of  Europe.' 

Now,  Sir,  upon  these  startling  observations  of  the  right  hon- 
3urable  gentleman  I  will  make  one  or  two  remarks.  And,  first, 
when  the  right  honourable  gentleman  says  the  vital  import- 
ance of  the  neutralisation  of  the  Black  Sea  was  never,  as  far 
as  he  knew,  the  view  of  the  British  Government,  and  that  he 
had  declared  his  confident  conviction  in  1856  that  it  would  be 
impossible  to  maintain  it,  I  would  observe  that  the  right 
honourable  gentleman — unintentionally  of  course — conveyed 
an  erroneous  impression  to  the  House  by  allowing  himself  to 
mix  up  his  own  individual  opinions  with  those  of  the  British 
Government.  [Mr.  Gladstone :  '  No ;  I  do  not  admit  it.'] 
Does  the  right  honourable  gentleman  complain  of  the  accu- 
racy of  the  report  ?  Of  course,  I  shall  take  any  explanation 
which  the  right  honourable  gentleman  has  to  offer,  and  if  he 
said  exactly  the  reverse  of  what  is  attributed  to  him,  no  one 
will  congratulate  the  House  and  the  country  more  sincerely 
than  I  shall.  But,  Sir,  when  the  right  honourable  gentleman 
talks  of  the  views  of  the  British  Government  and  brings  for- 
ward himself  as  an  authority,  allow  me  to  inform  the  House — 
because  some  time  has  elapsed,  and  we  fortunately  have  a  good 
VOL.  n.  L 


146  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD, 

many  young  members  among  us,  and  some  old  ones — that 
when  the  right  honourable  gentleman  made  this  speech  against 
the  importance  of  the  neutralisation  of  the  Black  Sea  in  1856 
he  was  not  a  minister  of  the  Crown,  nor  was  he  the  leader  of 
the  Opposition.  The  right  honourable  gentleman  was  con- 
nected in  this  House  with  a  minute  coterie  of  distinguished 
men,  who  had  no  following  in  the  country  at  the  time.  They 
were  condemned  by  the  country  on  account  of  their  conduct 
with  respect  to  this  very  question  of  the  Black  Sea  and  Turkish 
affairs  generally. 

Sightly  or  wrongly — I  will  not  enter  into  the  question 
now — the  country  was  convinced  that  the  Crimean  War  was 
occasioned  by  the  lukewarmness  and  the  hesitation  of  this 
small  body  of  distinguished  men.  But  of  these  distinguished 
men  the  most  unpopular  in  the  country  was  the  right  honour- 
able gentleman;  because,  when  war  was  inevitable  and  was 
even  declared  by  the  cabinet  of  Lord  Aberdeen,  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  at  that  time  having  the  control  of  the 
finances,  it  became  necessary  that  he  should  propose  the  ways 
and  means  for  carrying  on  the  war,  and  the  country  was  of 
opinion  that  the  proposals  of  the  right  honourable  gentle- - 
man  were  not  adequate  to  the  occasion,  and  were  not  such  [as 
the  honour  and  interest  of  England  demanded.  The  people  of 
England  remembered  a  celebrated  item  moved  by  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  in  Committee  of  Supply — namely,  a  vote 
proposed  by  him,  in  a  spirit  of  ironical  finance,  for  the  despatch 
of  Her  Majesty's  Guards  to  Malta  and  back  again.1  They 
never  forgot  and  never  forgave  that  item.  They  foresaw  then,- 
with  an  instinct  of  Englishmen  which  it  is  impossible  to  de- 
ceive, that  we  were  about  to  prosecute  a  war  in  a  spirit  which 
must  bring  calamity  and  disaster  upon  the  country.  Such  was 
the  position  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman ;  and,  there- 
fore, the  House  must  not  be  influenced  by  his  statement  of  the 
views  of  the  British  Government  of  that  time.  He  did  not 
represent  the  British  Government.  He  represented  no  party 
in  this  House  and  no  party  in  this  country. 

I  come  now  to  the  statement  of  the  right  honourable  gen- 
1  Financial  statement,  March  6,  1854.    Hansard,  vol.  31,  p.  368. 


BLACK   SEA   CONFERENCE,   FEBEUAEY   1871.  147 

tleman  about  Lord  Clarendon  and  Lord  Palmerston.  It  was  a 
very  responsible  thing,  I  ventured  to  say,  to  advise  the  con- 
tinuance of  the  war  in  1855.  But  almost  as  responsible  a 
thing,  in  my  opinion,  is  it  to  impute  to  statesmen  of  great 
eminence,  and  now  unfortunately  departed,  opinions  not  only 
which  they  did  not  hold,  but  which  were  contrary  to  their  con- 
victions, which  contradicted  their  whole  policy,  and  which 
would  intimate  that  public  men  of  the  highest  distinction 
who  proposed  a  policy,  in  enforcing  which  the  treasure  of  the 
country  was  expended  without  stint,  and  the  most  precious 
lives  of  the  country  were  sacrificed,  were  laughing  in  their 
sleeves  at  the  excitement  of  the  nation.  I  would  make  one 
remark  respecting  those  extraordinary  quotations  of  the 
opinions  of  Lord  Clarendon  and  Lord  Palmerston  as  to  the 
neutralisation  of  the  Black  Sea.  Nothing  can  be  more  incon- 
venient and  injurious  to  the  privileges  of  this  House  than  such 
quotations  by  ministers  of  the  private  opinions  of  their  col- 
leagues— and  especially  if  those  colleagues  are  deceased. 
Why,  we  are  so  punctilious  on  these  matters  that  a  minister 
is  not  even  permitted  to  quote  from  a  despatch  without  laying 
it  upon  the  table.  There  would  be  an  end  to  all  freedom  and 
force  of  discussion  if  it  were  in  the  power  of  a  minister  to  get 
up  and  say :  '  You  have  taken  such  and  such  a  view  of  affairs, 
but  your  facts  are  wrong,'  and  thus  to  carry  away  the  House  by 
some  declaration  of  which  we  had  no  proof  whatever.  Every- 
one must  feel  that  we  cannot  be  too  rigid  in  the  application  of 
our  rules  on  such  matters ;  and  even  if  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  was  convinced  that  these  were  the  private  opinions 
of  Lord  Clarendon  and  of  Lord  Palmerston,  he  was  not  justi- 
fied in  referring  to  the  private  conversations  of  ministers  who 
are  since  dead. 

I  am  not  here  to  vindicate  the  honour  either  of  Lord 
Clarendon  or  of  Lord  Palmerston.  There  are  those  in  this 
House  connected  with  Lord  Clarendon  by  blood,  and  who, 
moreover,  resemble  him  in  his  capacity  of  conducting  public 
affairs.  An  eminent  relative  of  Lord  Clarendon  has  a  seat 
in  this  House,  and  upon  him  should  devolve  the  duty  of 
defending  the  noble  earl's  memory  from  such  misstatements. 

L   2 


148  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

Nor  am  I  here  to  vindicate  the  honour  of  Lord  Palmerston ; 
but  I  may  make  one  observation  with  regard  to  that  distin- 
guished man,  because  it  may  throw  some  little  light  on  these 
painful  disclosures  which  have  agitated  and  surprised  so  many 
persons.  We  have  also  had  it  stated  in  '  another  place '  that 
Lord  Palmerston  made  some  light  observation  to  a  diplomatist 
who  spoke  to  him  on  the  subject  of  our  policy  with  regard  to 
the  Black  Sea.  Now,  everybody  who  knew  Lord  Palmerston 
well,  knew  this  of  him — that  with  a  smiling  countenance  he 
often  evaded  inconvenient  discussions  on  serious  affairs.  Lord 
Palmerston  was  a  man  who,  when  most  serious,  availed  him- 
self very  often  of  the  weapon  of  banter ;  and  not  merely  the 
diplomatist  in  question — and  I  do  not  seek  to  inquire  who  he 
is — but  many  diplomatists,  if  they  would  only  acknowledge  it, 
would  confess  that  when  they  have  wearied  Lord  Palmerston 
with  their  grave  assiduity,  or  have  attempted  to  pump  Lord 
Palmerston  with  their  practised  adroitness,  he  has  often  un- 
sheathed his  glittering  foil  and  has  soon  disarmed  and  disabled 
inconvenient  opponents.  Lord  Palmerston  was  a  master  of 
banter,  and  disliked  discussion  of  grave  matters  when  not  in 
his  cabinet  or  in  this  House.  But  I  cannot  refrain  from  re- 
cording nay  solemn  conviction  that  the  policy  of  Lord  Palmer- 
ston with  respect  to  maintaining  the  neutrality  of  the  Black 
Sea  never  wavered  for  a  moment,  and  that  nothing  but  secur- 
ing that  great  condition  of  the  Treaty  of  Paris  would  have 
reconciled  him  to  the  comparative  leniency  of  the  other 
terms. 

Now,  Sir,  I  hope  I  have  vindicated  myself  from  the  charge 
that  I  was  not  authorised  in  the  description  which  I  gave  the 
first  night  of  the  session,  of  the  importance  of  the  neutrality 
of  the  Black  Sea  ;  that  I  was  not  justified  in  saying  that  it  was 
the  cardinal  principle  of  the  settlement  of  1856;  that  these 
were  the  opinions  of  Lord  Palmerston,  Lord  Clarendon,  and 
Lord  Russell ;  that  they  broke  up  the  negotiations  at  Vienna ; 
and  that  the  war  was  renewed,  or  rather  continued,  solely  with 
the  view  to  maintain  that  condition.  I  think  I  have  showr 
that  the  policy  then  adopted  by  Her  Majesty's  Government 
was  the  policy  not  only  of  Lord  Clarendon,  but  that  it  rnusl 


BLACK  SEA  CONFERENCE,  FEBRUARY  1871.  149 

also  have  been  that  of  Lord  Granville  up  to  a  very  recent 
period.  Now,  Sir,  I  have  only  one  observation  to  make  upon 
the  Conference.  Why  a  Conference  was  called  is  to  me  a 
matter  difficult  to  comprehend,  and  I  hope  we  shall  learn 
clearly  to-night  what  its  object  is.  I  think  myself  that,  under 
any  circumstances,  a  Conference  would  have  been  a  mistake. 
But  if  the  Conference  had  been  called  to  vindicate  the  honour 
and  the  rights  of  England  and  of  Europe,  I  should  have 
thought  it,  though  a  hazardous,  at  least  a  bold  and  loyal  course. 
But  why  a  Conference  should  be  called — a  Conference  which 
Russia  did  not  require — for  Russia  only  really  initiated  an 
abstract  outrage  of  public  morality,  and  only  theoretically 
violated  a  treaty,  and  therefore  it  was  quite  unnecessary  to  do 
anything,  even  if  you  felt  you  were  not  prepared  to  resist  her 
when  she  put  her  policy  into  practice — I  say  why,  under  such 
circumstances,  a  Conference  should  be  called  merely  to  register 
the  humiliation  of  our  country  passes  my  understanding. 

But  there  was  one  declaration  made  by  the  Secretary  of  State 1 
which  may,  perhaps,  have  some  light  thrown  upon  it  by  that 
consummate  master  of  language 2  who  has  several  times  con- 
tradicted me  in  the  course  of  this  speech,  and  who  will  very 
likely  follow  the  same  course  when  he  rises  on  his  legs.  The 
declaration  was  made  by  a  Secretary  of  State  wh9  was  at  one 
time  ready  to  go.  to  war  with  or  without  allies,  but  whose  policy 
changes  in  a  moment,  and  the  policy  being  changed,  a  satisfac- 
tory and  plausible  reason  is  offered  to  the  British  people.  The 
Conference  is  to  be  held,  but  upon  this  understanding — there 
is  to  be  '  no  foregone  conclusion ' 3  on  the  subject.  That  state- 
ment was  generally  accepted.  What  was  the  weight  and  value 
of  that  condition  I  will  not  now  attempt  to  ascertain ;  but,  at 
any  rate,  it  meant  something.  If  it  was  not  to  influence 
events,  still  there  was  a  semblance  of  dignity  about  it.  And 
now,  if  the  Conference  was  to  be  held  without  any  foregone 
conclusion  by  any  of  the  Powers  upon  the  question  of  the  neu- 
trality of  the  Black  Sea,  I  want  to  know  how  the  right  honour- 

1  Lord  Granville.  -  Mr.  Gladstone. 

3  Words  used  by  Lord  Granville  at  the  Conference,  Jan.  17,  1871.  They 
are  to  be  found  in  the  first  Protocol. 

•f$'\ 

v,«          '-*'**  1 

»».,.       •  ..*• 
v  •     *•«%-• 


150  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

able  gentleman  reconciles  that  position  with  the  statement  he 
made  the  first  night  that  Parliament  met,  in  which  he  proved 
that  there  was  a  foregone  conclusion — a  foregone  conclusion  in 
the  mind  of  the  Prime  Minister,  and  that,  a  foregone  conclu- 
sion against  the  honour  and  interests  of  his  country  ? 


151 


BULGARIAN  ATROCITIES.     August  11,  1876. 

[In  the  summer  of  1875  disturbances  broke  out  in  the  province 
•  of  Bosnia  and  in  the  Herzegovina  occasioned  by  the  exactions  of  the 
tithe  farmers.  News  reached  this  country  in  the  following  year  that 
great  outrages  had  been  committed  by  the  Turkish  soldiers  in  the 
suppression  of  the  insurrection.  And  on  April  10  Mr.  W.  E.  Forster 
asked  Mr.  Disraeli  in  the  House  of  Commons  whether  it  was  true 
'  that  a  large  number  of  Bulgarian  girls  had  been  sold  publicly  as 
slaves,  and  also  that  a  very  large  number  of  Bulgarians  were  then 
undergoing  torture  in  prison.'  Mr.  Disraeli,  in  the  course  of  his 
reply,  said  he  doubted  whether  many  prisoners  were  undergoing 
torture,  as  the  Turks  were  an  Oriental  people,  who  '  generally  ter- 
minate their  connection  with  culprits  in  a  more  expeditious  manner.' 
This  sentence  was  imputed  to  him  as  '  levity,'  and  was  made  the 
foundation  of  many  most  impassioned  attacks.  On  August  1 1  the 
subject  was  renewed  by  Mr.  Evelyn  Ashley,  when  Mr.  Disraeli  spoke 
as  follows  : — ] 

SIR, — The  honourable  gentleman  the  .member  for  Poole 
(Mr.  Evelyn  Ashley)  has  called  attention  to  an  impor- 
tant and  interesting  subject  to-night  in  a  manner  very 
irregular,  I  think,  not  to  say  unprecedented.  If  the  honour- 
able gentleman  really  believes  that  the  conduct  of  Her 
Majesty's  Government  with  respect  to  these  transactions  and 
of  the  Queen's  ambassador  is  deserving  of  censure  and  disappro- 
bation, I  think  he  ought  to  have  come  forward  with  a  dis- 
tinct motion  on  the  subject.  Although  we  are  on  the  point 
of  prorogation,  he  knows  enough  of  me  to  know  that  my  advice 
the  Sovereign  would  be  not  to  prorogue  Parliament  if  he 
lesired  to  challenge  our  policy ;  and  even  in  a  House  like  this, 
if  he  had  given  notice,  the  opinion  of  the  House  of  Commons 
might  be  taken  about  it.  It  appears  to  me  to  be  a  course 
scarcely,  I  should  think,  pleasant  to  a  man  of  a  mind  such  as  I 
•believe  is  possessed  by  the  honourable  gentleman,  to  avail  him- 


152  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

self  of  a  parliamentary  privilege,  which  I  do  not  care  to  admit 
or  deny,  to  insinuate  an  offensive  opinion  upon  the  advisers  of 
the  Crown  and  upon  the  conduct  of  absent  ambassadors,  when 
he  knows  we  have  no  means,  in  the  present  state  of  affairs,  of 
testing  the  opinion  of  Parliament  or  of  the  country  upon  the 
subject.  Let  me  at  once  place  before  the  House  what  I 
believe  is  the  true  view  of  the  circumstances  which  principally 
interest  us  to-night,  for  after  the  Rhodian  l  eloquence  to  which 
we  have  just  listened,  it  is  rather  difficult  for  the  House  to  see 
clearly  the  point  which  is  before  it.  The  Queen's  ambassador 
at  Constantinople,  who  has  at  all  times  no  easy  duty  to  fulfil,, 
found  himself  at  the  end  of  April  and  in  the  first  three  weeks 
of  May  in  a  position  of  extreme  difficulty  and  danger.  Affairs 
in  Constantinople  never  had  assumed — at  least  in  our  time, 
certainly — a  more  perilous  character.  It  was  difficult  to  ascer- 
tain what  was  going  to  happen.  But  that  something  was  going 
to  happen,  and  something  of  a  character  which  might  disturb 
the  relations  of  the  Porte  with  all  the  Powers  of  Europe,  and 
might  even  bring  about  a  revolution,  the  effect  of  which  would 
be  felt  in  distant  countries,  there  was  no  doubt.  The  House 
is  well  acquainted  with  the  train  of  strange  incidents  which 
occurred,  all  of  them  events  that  tried  the  intelligence,  the 
vigilance,  and  the  thought  of  our  ambassador  there  to  the 
utmost ;  and,  in  circumstances  of  great  difficulty,  I  think  he 
showed  an  intelligence,  a  courage,  and  a  calmness  which  were 
highly  beneficial  to  the  course  of  public  affairs.  The  honour- 
able and  learned  gentleman  who  has  just  addressed  us  in  so 
learned  and  powerful  an  oration  (laughter) ;  well,  I  speak  what 
I  feel  ;  I  look  upon  him  as  one  of  the  chief  orators  of  the 
House — although  he  sometimes  lavishes,  as  he  has  done  on 
this  occasion,  his  great  powers  upon  subjects  which  are  not 
quite  adequate  to  the  treatment.  In  the  present  instance  the 
honourable  and  learned  gentleman  has  made  one  assumption 
throughout  his  speech — that  there  has  been  no  communication 
whatever  between  the  Queen's  ambassador  at  Constantinople  and 
Her  Majesty's  ministers  upon  the  subject  in  discussion ;  that 

1  From  Sir  W.  Harcourt,  who  had  just  sat  down.     The  Ehodian  school  of 
rhetoric  was  more  florid  than  the  Attic. 


BULGARIAN  ATROCITIES,   AUGUST    1876.  153- 

we  never  heard  of  these  affairs  until  the  newspapers  published 
accounts,  which  were  brought  under  the  notice  of  both  Houses 
of  Parliament,  and  from  that  assumption  he  draws  all  those 
inferences  so  flattering  to  Her  Majesty's  Government  which 
have  been  recently  communicated  to  the  House. 

The  state  of  the  facts  is  the  reverse.  From  the  very  first 
period  that  these  transactions  occurred — from  the  very  com- 
mencement— the  ambassador  was  in  constant  communication 

rith  Her  Majesty's  Government.  (No,  no!)  Why,  that  may 
>e  proved  by  the  papers  on  the  table.  Throughout  the  months 
May  and  June  the  ambassador  is  constantly  referring  to 
the  atrocities  occurring  in  Bulgaria,  and  to  the  repeated  pro- 
tests which  he  is  making  to  the  Turkish  Government,  and 
informing  Her  Majesty's  Government  of  interviews  and  conver- 

itions  with  the  Grand  Vizier  on  that  subject. 

The  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  says  that  when 
questions  were  addressed  to  me  in  this  House  I  was  'perfectly 
lorant  of  what  was  taking  place.  But  that  is  exactly  the 
question  which  we  have  to  decide  to-night.  I  say  we  were  not 

perfectly  ignorant  of  what  was  taking  place,  and  that  is  the  very 

rint  I  am  now  calling  attention  to.     I  say,  during  all  this 

jriod  we  were — I  will  not  say  daily,  but  constantly  receiving 
communications  from  Her  Majesty's  ambassador  informing  us 
3f  what  was  occurring  in  Bulgaria,  and  apprising  the  Govern- 

lent  of  the  steps  he  took   to  counteract  evil  consequences. 
What  did  take  place  was  this:  When  certain  statements  were 
le  in  this  House  we  said  we  were  in  constant  communication 

rith  Sir  Henry  Elliot,  and  that  the  information  which  reached 
did  not  warrant  the  statements  that  were  made.     I  agree 

rith  my  honourable  friend  the  Under  Secretary  of  State  for 
Foreign  Affairs  (Mr.  Bourke),  who  has  on  two  occasions 
Idressed  himself  to  the  subject  with  great  knowledge  and 
ability,  that  even  the  slightest  estimate  of  the  horrors  that 
occurred  in  Bulgaria  is  quite  sufficient  to  excite  the  indignation 
of  the  country  and  of  Parliament ;  but  when  you  come  to  say 
we  were  ignorant  of  all  that  was  occurring,  and  did  nothing  to 
counteract  it,  because  we  said  in  answer  to  questions  that  the 
information  which  had  reached  us  did  not  warrant  the  state- 


154  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ments  that  were  quoted  in  the  House — these  are  two  entirely 
different  questions;  and  therefore  it  becomes  us  to  consider 
what  were  the  statements  made  in  this  House. 

In  the  newspaper  which  had  been  referred  to,  the  first  account 
was,  if  I  recollect  aright,  that  30,000  or  32,000,persons  had  been 
slain  ;  that  10,000  persons  were  in  prison.  (Mr.  W.  E.  Forster : 
There  is  no  mention  of  that  in  the  first  statement.)  Well,  it 
may  have  been  in  the  second  that  it  was  made.  It  was  also 
stated  that  1,000  girls  had  been  sold  in  the  open  market,  that 
forty  girls  had  been  burnt  alive  in  a  stable,  and  that  cartloads  of 
human  heads  had  been  paraded  through  the  streets  of  the  cities 
of  Bulgaria :  these  were  some  of,  though  not  all,  the  statements 
made,  and  I  was  perfectly  justified  in  saying  that  the  informa- 
tion which  had  reached  us  did  not  justify  those  statements, 
and  therefore  we  believed  them  to  be  exaggerated.  Is  that  fact 
true,  or  is  it  not  ?  Now  that  we  have  arrived  at  a  position  in 
some  degree  to  realise  the  truth  of  the  terrible  results  that  did 
occur,  is  the  truth  most  like  what  we  believed  to  be  the  case, 
or  that  which  was  brought  forward  as  the  foundation  of  the 
questions  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  ?  I  maintain  that 
the  statements  we  made  in  Parliament  were  quite  justified. 
Lord  Derby  telegraphed  to  Sir  Henry  Elliot  a  second  account, 
which  appeared  in  the  '  Daily  News,'  stating  that  in  the  Tatar- 
Bazardjik  district,  six  Bulgarian  cartloads  of  heads  of  women 
and  children  were  boastfully  paraded,  and  that  young  women 
were  regular  articles  of  traffic,  and  were  being  sold  publicly  in 
the  villages  by  Tartars  and  Turks.  Lord  Derby  added  that  it 
was  very  important  that  Her  Majesty's  ministers  should  be  able 
to  reply  to  the  inquiries  made  in  Parliament  respecting  these 
and  other  statements,  and  directed  Sir  Henry  Elliot  to  inquire 
by  telegram  of  consuls,  and  report  as  soon  as  he  could.  All 
the  statements  in  this  second  account  are  untrue.  There  never 
were  forty  maidens  locked  up  in  a  stable  and  burnt  alive. 
That  was  ascertained  with  great  care  by  Mr.  Baring,  and  I  am 
surprised  that  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for 
Bradford  should  still  speak  of  it  as  a  statement  in  which  he  had 
confidence.  I  believe  it  is  an  entire  fabrication.  I  believe,  also, 
it  is  an  entire  fabrication  that  1,000  young  women  were  sold 


BULGAKIAN  ATKOCITIES,   AUGUST    1876.  155 

in  the  market  as  slaves.  We  have  not  received  the  slightest 
evidence  of  a  single  sale,  even  in  those  journals  on  which  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for  Bradford  founded 
his  erratic  speech. 

I  have  been  attacked  for  saying  that  I  did  not  believe  that 
it  was  possible  to  have  10,000  persons  in  prison  in  Bulgaria, 
far  as  I  can  ascertain  from  the  papers,  there  never  could 
lave  been  more  than  3,000.  As  to  the  10,000  cases  of  torture, 
rhat  evidence  is  there  of  any  case  of  torture  ?  We  know  very 
rell  there  has  been  considerable  slaughter ;  that  there  must 
ive  been  isolated  and  individual  cases  of  most  atrocious  rapine, 
id  outrages  of  a  most  atrocious  kind ;  but  still  we  have  had 
rammnication  with  Sir  Henry  Elliot,  and  he  has  always 
ssumed  from  what  he  knew  that  these  cases  of  individual  rapine 
and  outrage  were  occurring.  He  knew  that  civil  war  was  car- 
ried on  there  under  conditions  of  brutality  which  unfortunately 
re  not  unprecedented  in  that  country ;  and  the  question  is, 
rh ether  the  information  -we  had  justified  the  extravagant 
itements  repeated  in  Parliament  which  no  one  pretends  to 
uphold  and  defend.  We  were  asked  if  we  had  information 
rhich  justified  us  in  supposing  they  were  authentic.  We  replied 
it  we  were  in  daily  communication  with  our  ambassador,  who 
is  in  constant  communication  with  consuls,  and  that  nothing 
rhich  reached  us  warranted  those  extravagant  statements  which 
lobody  now  professes  to  believe.  The  honourable  and  learned 
gentleman  kindly  excused  me  for  not  having  seen  the  report  of 
Consul  Keade,  on  the  score  of  my  multifarious  duties  ;  but  I  do 
not  think  my  multifarious  duties  are  any  excuse  for  the  neglect 
of  business,  and  I  can  assure  the  House  there  is  not  a  despatch 
which  reaches  or  leaves  the  country  which  it  is  not  my  intention 
to  see,  and  I  scrupulously  fulfil  that  duty ;  but  it  is  a  remark- 
able circumstance  that  that  despatch  of  Consul  Eeade,  through 
no  inadvertence  of  mine,  was  forwarded  to  another  person.  A 
delay  arose,  and  it  never  reached  me  until  ten  days  after  the 
question  was  asked.  I  wish  to  vindicate  myself  on  that  point. 
The  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  has  done  full  justice 
to  the  Bulgarian  atrocities.  He  has  assumed  as  absolutely  true 
everything  that  criticism  and  more  authentic  information  had 


156     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

modified,  and  in  some  instances  had  proved  not  merely  to  be 
exaggerations  but  to  be  absolute  falsehoods.  And  then  the 
honourable  and  learned  gentleman  says,  'By  your  policy  you  have 
depopulated  a  province.'  Well,  Sir,  certainly  the  slaughter  of 
12,000  individuals,  whether  Turks  or  Bulgarians,  whether  they 
were  innocent  peasants  or  even  brigands,  is  a  horrible  event 
which  no  one  can  think  of  without  emotion.  But  when  I 
remember  that  the  population  of  Bulgaria  is  3,700,000  persons,, 
and  that  it  is  a  very  large  country,  is  it  not  a  most  extravagant 
abuse  of  rhetoric  to  say  that  the  slaughter  of  so  considerable  a 
number  as  1 2,000  persons  is  the  depopulation  of  a  province  ? 
Well,  but  then  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  makes  a 
severe  attack  upon  the  honourable  gentleman  the  Under  Secre- 
tary of  State,  because  he  referred  as  an  authority  to  the  '  Levant 
Herald.'  Now  the  *  Levant  Herald '  is  a  newspaper  which,  I 
believe,  is  of  considerable  authority,  and  is  distinguished  for  its 
authentic  information.  That  article  in  the  '  Levant  Herald '  I 
may  not  have  read  with  all  the  critical  acumen  of  the  honourable 
and  learned  member  for  Oxford ;  but  certainly,  as  I  read  it,  there 
were  many  points  which  I  felt  as  I  went  on  were  substantiated 
by  official  papers,  the  whole  of  which  I  believe  are  now  on  the 
table  of  the  House.  And  I  cannot  understand  how  it  is  that 
those  who  are  so  ready  sometimes  to  exaggerate  the  importance 
of  newspaper  communications,  and  to  assert,  as  two  honourable 
gentlemen  members  of  the  late  Government  have  done  this 
evening,  that  they  are  more  authentic  than  diplomatic  de- 
spatches, should  say  that  the  *  Daily  News  '  should  be  such  an 
absolutely  infallible  authority  upon  those  matters  ;  and  that  the 
*  Levant  Herald '  should  be  flouted  and  treated  with  all  the  scorn, 
which  the  honourable  and  learned  member  for  Oxford  has  poured 
upon  it.  I  cannot  see  why  the  information  of  the  *  Levant 
Herald '  is  to  be  treated  in  that  manner.  It  is  to  be  weighed 
fairly.  Its  statements  are  not  to  be  accepted  without  adequate: 
consideration ;  but  I  do  not  place  it,  as  regards  having  confidence 
in  its  information,  lower  than  any  other  newspaper.  And  I  have 
always  heard — I  know  it  was  so  in  old  times :  I  do  not  know 
myself  if  it  be  so  at  present — that  it  was  an  authority  much 
looked  up  to ;  and  I  have  never  heard  anything  about  its 


BULGARIAN  ATEOCITIES,  AUGUST   1876.  157 

management  or  character  to  give  any  reason  to  treat  its  autho- 
rity with  contempt.  But  when  I  find  its  statements  agree  and 
tally  with  the  statements  in  the  published  despatches,  I  natur- 
ally say  that  it  gives  me  a  prejudice  in  favour  of  its  veracity. 
•('  Oh,  oh ! ')  And  I  have  no  doubt,  Sir,  that  if  the  '  Levant 
Herald  '  were  to  publish  some  evidence  to-morrow  which  would 
tell  in  favour  of  the  views  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the 
member  for  Bradford,  or  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman 
the  member  for  Oxford,  we  should  have  that  journal  held  up  as 
containing  infallible  proof  of  the  fact,  and  who  should  dare 
attempt  to  depreciate  its  authority  or  question  its  veracity  ? 
We  should  have  had  nothing  but  high  laudation,  instead  of  the 
denouncing  phrases  which  fell  upon  us  to-night. 

Well,  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  said  also  that 
Her  Majesty's  Ofovernment  had  incurred  a  responsibility  which 
is  not  possessed  by  any  other  country  as  regards  our  relations 
with  Turkey  and  our  influence  with  the  Turks. 

I    say   we   have   incurred   no   responsibility  which  is  not 

I  shared  with  us  by  all  the  other  contracting  Powers  to  the 
Treaty  of  Paris.  I  utterly  disclaim  any  peculiar  responsibility. 
He  asks,  why  did  we  not  send  a  consul  to  Philippopolis  at 
once  ?  and  why  did  we  not  at  once  appoint  a  military  attache 
to  the  Turkish  army  ?  Why  should  we  have  sent  a  consular 
agent  to  Philippopolis  ?  Why  send  a  military  attache  to  the 
Turkish  army  ?  To  do  so  does  not  involve  us  in  any  peculiar 
responsibility — it  is  only  the  exercise  by  Her  Majesty  of  one 
of  her  rights  and  duties.  It  has  nothing  to  do  with  treaties  or 
with  diplomatic  responsibility.  Her  Majesty  has  the  right  to 
send  a  consular  agent  to  any  place  she  thinks  fit,  and  she  has  a 
right,  if  the  Sovereign  of  the  country  agrees  to  it,  to  send  a 
military  attache  to  the  armies  of  the  belligerents.  The  very 
fact  that  we  were  obliged  properly  to  appeal  to  the  Porte  for 
their  permission  before  we  appointed  General  Kemball,  shows 
that  it  was  no  intrusion  and  no  undue  or  unjust  interference 
with  the  Government  of  the  country,  but  that  we  were  only 
fulfilling  our  duties  as  an  independent  State  in  connection  with 
another  independent  State ;  and  to  attempt  to  mix  up  those 
two  simple  acts  on  the  part  of  the  Queen  with  diplomatic 


158  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

engagements,  and  responsibility  of  a  peculiar  nature  arising 
from  those  diplomatic  engagements,  is  really  to  introduce  a 
preposterous  element  into  the  debate.  I  am  asked  why  it  is 
that  because  we  have  in  August  agreed  to  send  a  vice-consul 
to  Philippopolis,  we  did  not  do  so  in  May  ?  Does  anyone 
believe  that  if  a  vice-consul  had  been  sent  to  Philippopolis  in 
May  it  would  have  prevented  the  disastrous  events  that  have 
occurred  ?  It  is  quite  impossible  to  suppose  anything  of  the 
kind.  What  we  have  done  now  in  a  place  where  I  am  sorry  to 
say  we  have  no  commercial  relations,  will  at  least  lay  the  basis 
of  some  better  means  of  communication  in  that  country,  and 
we  should  have  better  communication  with  Turkey  at  present 
if,  unfortunately,  some  years  back  there  had  not  been  a  Liberal 
assault  on  the  consular  system  which  reduced  the  number  of 
Turkish  vice-consuls. 

The  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  told  the  Government: 
'  There  is  a  question  now  which  you  must  face,  and  that  ques- 
tion is,  why  do  you  stand  out  as  an  obstacle  to  the  settlement 
of  a  great  question  from  pure  jealousy  of  Kussia  ? ' 

I  should  like  to  know,  in  the  first  place,  what  is  this  great 
question  to  the  settlement  of  which  we  stand  out  as  an  obstacle  ?" 
The  honourable  and  learned  gentleman,  although  he  has  seldom 
had  greater  command  of  eloquence,  and  although  he  appears  to 
have  given  the  subject  great  consideration,  never  told  us  what 
the  real  question  was,  and  when  he  taunted  us  so  indignantly 
with  being  an  obstacle  to  the  settlement  of  this  great  question,, 
he  never  ventured  to  define  it,  except,  indeed,  that  he  did 
intimate  that  it  was  the  duty  of  England,  in  combination  with 
Russia  and  the  other  Powers,  to  expel  the  whole  Turkish 
nation  from  Eastern  Europe.  That  an  honourable  and  learned 
gentleman,1  once  a  member  of  a  Government,  and  an  ornament 
of  that  Government,  and  one  who  would  in  future  be  one 
of  our  eminent  statesmen,  that  after  having  experienced  a 
sense  of  political  responsibility,  he  should  get  up  on  the  last 
day  of  the  session,  and  with  the  conviction  that  from  his  glowing 

1  Sir  W.  Vernon  Harcourt  had  been  Solicitor-General  in  the  previous 
Government,  and  was  Homo  Secretary  in  the  administration  which  succeeded 
Lord  Beaconsfield. 


BULGARIAN  ATROCITIES,   AUGUST    1876.  159 

and  animated  words  the  country  might  be  disturbed  for  the 
next  six  months  at  least,  should  counsel  as  the  solution  of  all 
these  difficulties  that  Her' Majesty's  Government  should  enter 
into  an  immediate  combination  to  expel  the  Turkish  nation 
from  Eastern  Europe,  does  indeed  surprise  me.  And  because 
we  are  not  prepared  to  enter  into  a  scheme  so  Quixotic  as  that 
would  be,  we  are  held  up  by  the  honourable  and  learned 
gentleman  and  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member 
for  Bradford  as  having  given  our  moral,  not  to  say  our 
material,  assistance  to  the  Turkish  people  and  the  Turkish 
Grovernment.  We  are  always  treated  as  if  we  had  some 
peculiar  alliance  with  the  Turkish  Government,  as  if  we  were 
their  peculiar  friends,  and  even  as  if  we  were  expected  to 
uphold  them  in  any  enormity  they  might  commit.  I  want  t& 
know  what  evidence  there  is  of  that,  what  interest  we  have  in 
such  a  thing.  We  are,  it  is  true,  the  allies  of  the  Sultan  of 
Turkey — so  is  Eussia,  so  is  Austria,  so  is  France,  and  so  are 
others.  We  are  also  their  partners  in  a  tripartite  treaty,  in 
which  we  not  only  generally,  but  singly,  guarantee  with  France 
and  Austria  the  territorial  integrity  of  Turkey.  These  are  our 
engagements,  and  they  are  the  engagements  that  we  endeavour 
to  fulfil.  And  if  these  engagements,  renovated  and  repeated 
only  four  years  ago  by  the  wisdom  of  Europe,  are  to  be  treated 
by  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  as  idle  wind  and 
chaff,  and  if  we  are  to  be  told  that  our  political  duty  is  by 
force  to  expel  the  Turks  Lto  the  other  side  of  the  Bosphorus, 
then  politics  cease  to  be  an  art,  statesmanship  becomes  a  mere 
mockery,  and  instead  of  being  a  House  of  Commons  faithful  to 
its  traditions  and  which  is  always  influenced,  I  have  ever 
thought,  by  sound  principles  of  policy,  whoever  may  be  its 
leaders,  we  had  better  at  once  resolve  ourselves  into  one  of 
those  revolutionary  clubs  which  settle  all  political  and  social 
questions  with  the  same  ease  as  the  honourable  and  learned 
member. 

Sir,  we  refused  to  join  in  the  Berlin  note  because  we  were 
convinced  that  if  we  made  that  step  we  should  very  soon  see  a 
material  interference  in  Turkey ;  and  we  were  not  of  opinion 
that  by  a  system  of  material  guarantees  the  great  question 


160  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

which  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  has  adverted  to, 
would  be  solved  either  for  the  general  welfare  of  the  world  or 
for  the  interests  of  England,  which  after  all  must  be  our 
sovereign  care.  The  Government  of  the  Porte  was  never  for  a 
moment  misled  by  the  arrival  of  the  British  fleet  in  Besika  Bay. 
They  were  perfectly  aware  when  that  fleet  came  there  that  it 
was  not  to  prop  up  any  decaying  and  obsolete  Government,  nor 
did  its  presence  there  sanction  any  of  those  enormities  which 
are  the  subjects  of  our  painful  discussion  to-night.  What  may 
be  the  fate  of  the  eastern  part  of  Europe  it  would  be  arrogant 
for  me  to  speculate  upon,  and  if  I  had  any  thoughts  on  the 
subject  I  trust  I  should  not  be  so  imprudent  or  so  indiscreet  as 
to  take  this  opportunity  to  express  them.  But  I  am  sure  that 
as  long  as  England  is  ruled  by  English  Parties  who  understand 
the  principles  on  which  our  Empire  is  founded,  and  who  are 
resolved  to  maintain  that  Empire,  our  influence  in  that  part  of 
the  world  can  never  be  looked  upon  with  indifference.  If  it 
should  happen  that  the  Government  which  controls  the  greater 
portion  of  those  fair  lands  is  found  to  be  incompetent  for  its 
purpose,  neither  England  nor  any  of  the  Great  Powers  will 
shrink  from  fulfilling  the  high  political  and  moral  duty  which 
will  then  devolve  upon  them. 

But,  Sir,  we  must  not  jump  at  conclusions  so  quickly  as  is 
now  the  fashion.  There  is  nothing  to  justify  us  in  talking  in 
such  a  vein  of  Turkey  as  has,  and  is  being  at  this  moment 
entertained.  The  present  is  a  state  of  affairs  which  requires 
the  most  vigilant  examination  and  the  most  careful  manage- 
ment. But  those  who  suppose  that  England  ever  would  uphold, 
or  at  this  moment  particularly  is  upholding,  Turkey  from  blind 
superstition  and  from  a  want  of  sympathy  with  the  highest 
aspirations  of  humanity,  are  deceived.  What  our  duty  is  at 
this  critical  moment  is  to  maintain  the  Empire  of  England. 
Nor  will  we  ever  agree  to  any  step,  though  it  may  obtain  for  a 
moment  comparative  quiet  and  a  false  prosperity,  that  hazards 
the  existence  of  that  Empire. 


161 


SPEECH  ON  CALLING  OUT  RESERVE  FORCES.     April  8, 

1878. 

MESSAGE    FKOM    QUEEN. 

[By  the  Treaty  of  San  Stefano,  concluded  between  Russia  and 
Turkey  in  the  spring  of  1878,  the  latter  Power  was  reduced  to  a 
cypher  in  the  hands  of  Russia,  and  the  position  of  England  in  the 
Mediterranean  seriously  imperilled.  Russia  was  required  by  the 
British  Government  to  submit  the  treaty  to  a  Congress ;  and  her 
refusal  to  do  so  was  the  signal  for  Lord  Beaconsfield  to  advise  Her 
Majesty  to  call  out  the  Reserve  Forces.] 

THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD :  My  lords,  in  moving  an 
humble  address  to  Her  Majesty  to  thank  the  Queen  for  the 
•acious  message  which  we   have  recently  received  from  Her 
ajesty,  I  think  it  will  not  be  considered  unusual  that  I  should 
ake  a  few  remarks  on  the  circumstances  in  which  that  message 
been  addressed  to  Parliament.    I  assure  your  lordships  I  shall 
tot  ask  you  to  follow  me  in  a  narrative  of  the  war  which  has 
uirred  between  Eussia  and  Turkey,  or  of  the  course  which 
as  been  pursued  by  Her  Majesty's  Government  during  that 
tr.     When  last  I  had  the  honour  of  addressing  your  lordships 
on  this  subject,  which  was  on  the  occasion  of  the  meeting  of 
Parliament,  I  said  that  during  that  war  no  noble  lord  opposite 
had  challenged  the  policy  which  we  had  pursued,  and  I  thought, 
therefore,  I  was  entitled  to  assume  that  the  policy  on  which  we 
had  acted  had  been  generally  approved,  and  I  believe  I  may 
infer  from  what  passed  on  that  occasion  that  noble  lords  oppo- 
site assented  to  my  statement.     But  it  so  happened  that  at 
almost  the  very  moment  I  was  then  speaking  circumstances  were 
occurring  which  gave  quite  a  new  aspect  to  affairs,  and  I  think 
that  upon  those  circumstances  and  upon  all  the  conduct  of  Her 
Majesty's    Government    subsequently  to   these    circumstances 

VOL.  II.  M 


102  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

your  lordships  have  a  legitimate,  constitutional,  and  Parlia- 
mentary right  to  declare  your  opinion.  With  one  exception, 
I  will  ask  your  attention  only  to  what  has  occurred  from  the 
moment  to  which  I  have  been  alluding.  My  lords,  before  I 
enter  into  the  details  with  which  I  shall  have  to  trouble  your 
lordships,  I  ask  permission  to  read  an  extract  from  an  import- 
ant despatch,  which  extract  it  seems  to  me  to  be  necessary  you 
should  have  in  your  minds  before  you  can  form  an  impartial 
judgment  on  the  statement  which  I  am  about  to  submit  to  your 
lordships'  House.  In  that  paper,  which  was  an  answer  to  Prince 
Grortchakoff  announcing  and  vindicating  the  commencement  of 
the  war  between  Kussia  and  Turkey,  the  Secretary  of  State  (the 
Earl  of  Derby)  argued  with  great  ability  the  many  reasons  why 
we  could  not  agree  with  His  Highness.  Having  given  many 
reasons  for  this,  the  Secretary  of  State  concluded  : — 

'  The  course  on  which  the  Russian  Government  has  entered 
involves  graver  and  more  serious  considerations.'  (That  is, 
graver  and  more  serious  than  those  which  he  had  already 
alleged.)  '  It  is  in  contravention  of  the  stipulation  of  the 
Treaty  of  Paris  of  March  30,  1856,  by  which  Russia  and  the 
other  signatory  Powers  engaged,  each  on  its  own  part,  to  respect 
the  independence  and  the  territorial  integrity  of  the  Ottoman 
Empire.  In  the  Conference  of  London  of  1871,  at  the  close  of 
which  the  above  stipulation  with  others  was  again  confirmed, 
the  Russian  plenipotentiary,  in  common  with  those  of  the  other 
Powers,  signed  a  declaration  affirming  it  to  be  "  an  essential 
principle  of  the  law  of  nations  that  no  Power  can  liberate  itself 
from  the  engagements  of  a  treaty,  nor  modify  the  stipulations 
thereof,  unless  with  the  consent  of  the  contracting  parties 
by  means  of  an  amicable  arrangement."  In  taking  action 
against  Turkey  on  his  own  part,  and  having  recourse  to  arms 
without  further  consultation  with  his  allies,  the  Emperor  of 
Russia  has  separated  himself  from  the  European  concert  hitherto 
maintained,  and  has  at  the  same  time  departed  from  the  rule 
to  which  he  himself  had  solemnly  recorded  his  consent.' 

My  lords,  the  reply  from  which  I  have  read  that  extract  is 
dated  May  1,  1877  ;  and  it  is  of  the  greatest  importance  that  the 
House  should  bear  in  mind  that,  at  the  commencement  of  the 


SPEECH  ON   CALLING-  OUT   RESERVE  FORCES,   APRIL   1878.    163 

•deplorable  war  which  I  trust  has  now  ceased,  this  announcement 
was  so  deliberately  made  and  this  principle  was  vindicated  in  a 
manner  so  distinct  by  Hep  Majesty's  Government.  My  lords, 
the  extract  which  I  have  read  conveys  the  keynote  of  our 
policy  ;  it  is  the  diapason  of  our  diplomacy  ;  upon  it  our  policy 
was  founded;  and  had  not  those  engagements  been  entered 
into  by  Eussia,  and  had  we  not  held  her  bound  by  those  en- 
gagements in  the  face  of  Europe,  no  policy  of  neutrality  would 
have  been  sanctioned  by  this  country.  I  believe,  my  lords,  I 
may  say  that  not  alone  for  this,  but  for  other  countries  which 
adopted  the  same  policy. 

Well,  since  I  had  the  honour  of  addressing  your  lordships 
at  the  beginning  of  this  session,  circumstances  which  were  just 
then  occurring  and  which  continued  afterwards  have  given  a 
new  aspect  to  the  state  of  affairs.  Those  circumstances  were 
as  follow: — About  that  time  Her  Majesty's  Government  re- 
ceived private  information  that  negotiations  were  commencing 
or  were  about  to  commence  between  the  belligerent  Powers. 
No  sooner  had  that  information  reached  us  than  the  Secre- 
tary of  State  addressed  to  Her  Majesty's  ambassador  at  St. 
Petersburg,  Lord  A.  Loftus,  instructions  which  were  as  follow, 
and  were  dated  January  14  : — 

'  Her  Majesty's  ambassador  has  been  instructed  to  state  to 
Prince  Gortchakoff  that,  in  order  to  avoid  possible  misconcep- 
tion and  in  view  of  reports  which  have  reached  Her  Majesty's 
Government,  they  are  of  opinion  that  any  treaty  concluded 
between  the  Governments  of  Kussia  and  the  Porte  affecting  the 
treaties  of  1856  and  1871  must  be  a  European  treaty,  and 
"would  not  be  valid  without  the  assent  of  the  Powers  who  were 
parties  to  those  treaties.' 

My  lords,  on  January  23,  having  received  no  answer  from 
Kussia  with  respect  to  those  representations,  the  Secretary  of 
State,  pressing  for  an  answer,  telegraphed  in  these  terms : — 

'  Have  you  received  an  answer  from  the  Russian  Government 
to  the  communication  which  you  made  on  the  15th  inst. 
respecting  the  validity  of  any  future  treaty  ?  ' 

On  January  24,  ten  days  after  the  original  representations, 

M   2 


164  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

Her  Majesty's  ambassador  writes  to  say  he  had  received   no- 
answer  himself,  and  adds : — 

*  I  presume  Prince  Grortchakoff  regarded  the  communication 
as  a  statement  to  record  the  opinion  of  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment which  required  no  answer.  If  an  answer  was  to  be  given, 
it  would  probably  be  made  through  the  Russian  ambassador  in 
London.' 

Accordingly,  my  lords,  on  the  day  after  that  message  was  re- 
ceived, Count  Schouvaloff  read  to  my  noble  friend  the  following 
extract  of  a  telegram  from  Prince  Grortchakoff : — 

1  We  repeat  the  assurance  that  we  do  not  intend  to  settle 
by  ourselves  (isolemenf)  European  questions  having  reference 
to  the  peace  which  is  to  be  made  (se  rattachant  a  la  paix)' 

Meanwhile,  my  lords,  information  reached  us  that  negotia- 
tions were  now  being  carried  on  between  Eussian  and  Turkish 
delegates  at  Kezanlik,  and  that  those  negotiations  were  being 
conducted  with  the  utmost  secrecy,  I  may  say  mystery,  which 
secrecy  was  held  as  against  those  who  had  religiously  and 
honourably  observed  that  policy  of  neutrality  which  had  been 
promised  by  the  Secretary  of  State.  In  consequence  of  this, 
my  lords,  on  January  29  the  Secretary  of  State  addressed  the 
following  despatch  to  Lord  A.  Loftus  : — 

'  I  have  to  instruct  your  Excellency  to  state  to  the  Russian 
Gfovernment  that  Her  Majesty's  Government,  while  recognising 
any  arrangements  made  by  the  Russian  and  Turkish  delegates 
at  Kezanlik  for  the  conclusion  of  an  armistice  and  for  the  set 
tlement  of  bases  of  peace  as  binding  between  the  two  belligei 
ents,  declare  that  in  so  far  as  those  arrangements  are  calculatec 
to  modify  European  treaties  and  to  affect  general  and  Britisl 
interests  they  are  unable  to  recognise  in  them  any  validitj 
unless  they  are  made  the  subject  of  a  formal  agreement  amon£ 
the  parties  to  the  Treaty  of  Paris.' 

At  the  same  time,  my  lords,  the  Secretary  of  State  sent  the 
following  circular  in  identical  language  to  Her  Majesty's  am- 
bassadors at  all  the  Courts  of  Paris,  Vienna,  Berlin,  and  Rome. 
Your  lordships  will  perceive  that  it  contains  an  additional  para- 
graph, but  in  other  respects  is  substantially  the  same  as  the 
communication  to  Lord  A.  Loftus  of  January  29. 


SPEECH   ON   CALLING   OUT   EESEEVE  FOECES,   APEIL   1878.    165 

:  I  have  to  request  that  your  Excellency  will  inform  the 
Government  to  which  you  are  accredited  that  Her  Majesty's 
Government,  while  they  are  prepared  to  recognise  any  arrange- 
ments which  may  be  made  by  the  Eussian  delegates  and  those 
of  Turkey  at  Kezanlik  with  a  view  to  the  conclusion  of  an 
armistice  and  the  settlement  of  bases  of  peace  as  binding  be- 
tween the  two  belligerents,  declare,  nevertheless,  that  in  so  far 
as  such  arrangements  may  be  found  calculated  to  modify  European 
treaties,  or  to  affect  general  interests  or  those  of  Great  Britain, 
they  are  unable  to  recognise  in  them  any  validity  unless  they 
shall  be  made  the  subject  of  a  formal  agreement  by  the  Powers 
parties  to  the  Treaty  of  Paris. 

'  Her  Majesty's  Government  entertain  the  hope  that  the 
view  of  the  case  above  stated,  which  is  entirely  based  upon  the 
treaties,  and  more  especially  upon  the  Treaty  of  London  of 
1871,  will  receive  the  assent  of  the  other  Powers  who  were 
parties  to  those  treaties.' 

At  length,  my  lords,  there  came  the  following  reply  from 
the  Eussian  Government : — 

'  St.  Petersburg :  January  30,  1878. 

'  I  have  received  your  lordship's  telegram  of  yesterday,  con- 
taining a  declaration  relative  to  the  question  of  the  validity  of 
the  bases  of  peace,  and  I  have  this  morning  communicated  the 
substance  of  it  to  Prince  Gortchakoff.  His  Highness  replied 
that  to  effect  an  armistice  certain  bases  of  peace  were  necessary, 
3ut  they  are  only  to  be  considered  as  preliminaries,  and  not 
lefinitive  as  regarded  Europe.  His  Highness  stated  categori- 
illy  that  questions  bearing  on  European  interests  will  be  con- 
certed with  European  Powers,  and  he  had  given  Her  Majesty's 
rovernment  clear  and  positive  assurances  to  this  effect.' 

Those  positive  assurances  were  repeated  in  communications 
made  by  the  Eussian  ambassador  to  this  country ;  and  I  am 
bound  to  say,  as  so  many  remarks  have  been  made  on  the 
conduct  of  that  plenipotentiary,  that  I  believe  he  has  made  no 
representations  to  Her  Majesty's  Government  which  are  not  to 
be  found  in  the  instructions  which  he  received  from  his  own 
Government. 

Well,   my  lords,   this  carried   us  through   the   month   of 


166  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD . 

January,  the  month  in  which  Parliament  assembled,  the  month 
in  which  those  negotiations  between  Kussia  and  Turkey  com- 
menced, and  the  month  in  which  was  received  that  declaration 
from  Prince  Grortehakoff  which  Her  Majesty's  Grovernment  was 
induced  to  regard  as  satisfactory.  And  that  it  was  deemed 
satisfactory  by  the  Government  of  Austria  also  I  think  there 
can  be  no  doubt,  because  on  February  4  a  formal  invitation 
was  received  by  Her  Majesty's  Grovernment  from  the  Grovern- 
ment of  Austria  to  a  Conference  to  be  held  at  Vienna.  That 
communication  was  made  with  the  knowledge  of  Kussia,  or,  to 
use  the  language  of  a  despatch  of  the  Austrian  ambassador, 
Russia  'fully  appreciated  it,'  and  the  object  of  the  Conference 
was  stated  to  be  the  establishment  of-'  a  European  agreement 
as  to  the  modifications  which  it  might  become  necessary  to  in- 
troduce in  existing  treaties,'  in  order  to  make  them  harmonise 
with  the  present  situation.  Your  lordships  will  observe  the 
character  in  which  this  Grovernment,  the  Grovernment  of  Austria, 
and  the  other  Governments  were  to  take  part  in  the  Conference. 
Avowedly,  it  was  in  her  character  as  a  signatory  of  the  treaties 
of  1856  that  Austria  addressed  the  invitation  to  the  other 
Powers,  and  it  was  in  their  character  as  signatories  of  those 
treaties  that  the  other  Powers  received  that  invitation.  That 
carried  us  to  the  commencement  of  February,  and  the  month 
which  follows  is  not  rich  in  diplomatic  documents.  But,  my 
lords,  it  was  not  an  uneventful  month.  During  the  whole  of 
that  period  Austria  was  busy  in  conferring  with  the  different 
Courts  of  Europe  and  in  making  arrangements  for  the  meet- 
ing of  the  Conference.  There  was  the  scheme  of  its  meetings  at 
Vienna ;  there  was  the  objection  of  some  of  the  Powers  to  the 
meeting  being  held  in  a  capital  city.  There  were  discussions 
as  to  the  presidency,  as  to  the  locality,  and  as  to  the  name  of 
the  assembly,  as  to  whether  it  should  be  held  in  a  capital  city 
or  in  a  place  of  more  obscure  character,  as  to  whether  it  should 
be  called  a  Conference  or  a  Congress,  and  as  to  whether  it  should 
be  presided  over  by  a  Secretary  of  State  or  by  some  other 
minister.  All  those  questions  occupied  the  minds  of  Grovern- 
ments, but  they  did  not  occupy  the  minds  of  Her  Majesty's 
Grovernment.  Her  Majesty's  Grovernment  never  made  the 


SPEECH  ON   CALLING   OUT   RESERVE  FORCES,   APRIL   1878.    167 

slightest  objection.  There  were  persons  proposed  whom  we 
might  not  have  approved  as  the  best  president ;  there  were 
localities  proposed  which,  perhaps,  we  did  not  approve  as  the 
best ;  but  we  never  made  any  objection  of  the  kind.  We 
thought  too  much  of  the  interests  of  peace  and  of  the  magni- 
tude of  the  considerations  involved  in  a  meeting  of  a  Conference 
•>r  Congress ;  so  that  whether  it  was  to  be  a  Conference  or  a 
Congress,  or  whether  it  was  to  be  held  at  Vienna,  as  originally 
proposed,  or  at  Baden,  or  at  Berlin,  or  who  was  to  preside  over 
it  were  matters  which  Her  Majesty's  Government  put  on  one 
side,  because  we  were  anxious  that  there  should  be  such  a 
leeting,  believing  that  by  it  a  means  of  securing  the  peace  of 
Europe  might  be  obtained. 

My  lords,  an  invitation  arrived  from  Austria  to  a  Congress 
at  Berlin,  the  objection  to  a  capital  city  having,  it  appears,  been 
waived.  Well,  we  stated  without  a  moment's  delay  that  we 
would  accept  it.  and  we  did  not  for  a  moment  ask  why  Berlin 
should  be  preferred  to  Vienna.  All  we  wanted  was  that  there 
should  be  such  a  meeting ;  but  mindful  as  we  were  of  the 
events  which  had  been  occurring  during  the  month  of  February 
when  Austria  was  carrying  on  those  negotiations,  remembering 
that  during  the  whole  of  that  time  secret  negotiations  were 
being  carried  on  between  Russia  and  the  Porte,  remembering 
the  fact  that  during  the  whole  time  while  those  secret  negotia- 
tions were  proceeding  the  Russian  army  was  advancing,  and,  if 
not  occupying,  encircling  the  capital  of  Turkey,  and  remem- 
bering that  we  had  felt  it  our  duty  to  advise  Her  Majesty  to 
send  a  portion  of  the  fleet  to  the  Dardanelles,  we  considered  it 
was  of  importance  when  we  assented  to  attending  a  Congress  at 
Berlin  that  the  policy  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  should  be 
stated  in  an  unmistakable  form,  and  the  Secretary  of  State 
on  March  4,  while  agreeing  to  that  proposition,  expressed  to 
Count  Beust  the  views  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  in  these 
terms : — 

1  Her  Majesty's  Government,  however,  consider  that  it 
would  be  desirable  to  have  it  understood  in  the  first  place  that 
all  questions  dealt  with  in  the  treaty  of  peace  between  Russia 
and  Turkey  should  be  considered  as  subjects  to  be  discussed  in 


168  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

the  Congress,  and  that  no  alteration  in  the  condition  of  things 
previously  established  by  treaty  should  be  acknowledged  as 
valid  until  it  has  received  the  assent  of  the  Powers.' 

I  think,  my  lords,  I  have  shown  you  that  in  the  eventful 
month  that  elapsed  from  the  time  to  which  I  before  alluded, 
Her  Majesty's  Government  were  consistently  maintaining  that 
great  principle  which  they  had  vindicated  before  the  war  com- 
menced, which  they  had  repeated  on  other  occasions,  and  which 
on  this  occasion,  when  the  meeting  of  the  Congress  appeared  to 
be  settled  upon  generally,  they  felt  it  their  duty  to  again  affirm 
in  the  terms  I  have  just  read  to  the  House.  A  day  or  two 
afterwards — in  consequence,  probably,  of  some  rumours  which 
may  have  reached  us  or  of  some  slight  indications  of  feeling 
which  it  was  impossible  to  record,  but  which  the  observant  critic 
would  not  fail  to  remark — the  Secretary  of  State  wrote  in  this 
language  to  Her  Majesty's  ambassador  at  Vienna  : — 

*  I  have  to  request  your  Excellency  to  inform  Count  Andrassy 
that,  in  order  to  avoid  any  misapprehension  as  to  the  meaning  of 
their  recent  declaration  contained  in  my  note  to  Count  Beust  of 
the  9th  inst.,  Her  Majesty's  Government  desire  to  state  that 
they  must  distinctly  understand,  before  they  enter  into  Congress, 
that  every  article  in  the  treaty  between  Kussia  and  Turkey  will 
be  placed  before  the  Congress,  not  necessarily  for  acceptance, 
but  in  order  that  it  may  be  considered  what  articles  require 
acceptance  or  concurrence  by  the  several  Powers  and  what  do 
not.' 

Now,  my  lords,  after  some  slight  delay,  we  received  a  memo- 
randum from  Prince  Gortchakoff  which  was  communicated  by 
Lord  A.  Loftus  on  March  1 7. 

'  In  answer  to  the  communication  by  Lord  Augustus  Loftus 
of  the  despatch  in  which  Lord  Derby  has  answered  the  proposal 
of  Count  Beust  respecting  the  meeting  of  a  Congress  at  Berlin, 
I  have  the  honour  to  repeat  the  assurance  which  Count  Schou- 
valoff  has  already  been  instructed  to  give  to  the  Government  of 
Her  Britannic  Majesty — namely,  that  the  preliminary  treaty  of 
peace  concluded  between  Kussia  and  Turkey  will  be  textually 
communicated  to  the  Great  Powers  before  the  meeting  of  the 
Congress,  and  that  in  the  Congress  itself  each  Power  will  hav« 


SPEECH  ON  CALLING  OUT  KESEEVE  FOECES,  APEIL   1878.    169 

the  full  liberty  of  its  appreciations  and  of  its  action  ("  la  pleine 
liberte  de  ses  appreciations  et  de  son  action  ").' 

Now,  my  lords,  I  may  nbt,  perhaps,  be  an  impartial  judge,  but 
I  must  say  that  the  phrase  '  la  pleine  liberte  de  ses  appre- 
ciations et  de  son  action '  was  one  of  which  I  was  not  able  to 
form  a  very  clear  conception.  As  to  what  '  appreciation '  and 
1  action '  may  be,  no  doubt  different  interpretations  may  be 
furnished.  It  is  a  phrase  involved  in  some  degree  of  classical 
ambiguity.  Delphi  itself  could  hardly  have  been  more  perplex- 
ing and  august.  (Laughter  and  cheers.)  Well,  my  lords,  Her 
Majesty's  Government  could  place  only  one  interpretation  on 
that  communication.  However  ambiguous  the  language  of 
previous  despatches,  however  various  the  expressions  that  had 
been  used,  there  was  nothing  in  the  previous  correspondence 
between  the  two  Courts  to  induce  us  to  assume  that  there  would 
be  a  refusal  on  the  part  of  Eussia  to  that  which  England 
believed  to  be  a  natural,  just,  and  indispensable  condition  of  her 
entering  into  the  Congress.  We  are  to  understand  by  implica- 
tion that  now  for  the  first  time  there  was  ground  for  that 
assumption.  My  lords,  let  me  make  one  or  two  remarks  on 
the  character  of  this  treaty  of  San  Stefano  which  Her  Majesty's 
Government  felt  so  necessary  to  be  submitted  to  the  Congress, 
and  which  we  believed — and  I  think  we  believed  so  in  common 
with  the  other  Powers — Kussia  was  bound  by  the  treaties  of 
1856  and  1871  to  submit  to  the  Congress.  (Hear,  hear.)  The 
treaty  is  in  your  lordships'  hands,  and,  therefore,  I  will  not 
enter  into  a  minute  criticism  of  its  every  article ;  but  it  is 
necessary  that  I  should  put  before  your  lordships  some  of  its 
provisions,  because,  unless  they  be  clear  in  your  lordships' 
minds,  you  would  hardly  be  in  a  position  to  impartially  decide 
•as  to  the  consequences  to  which  the  treaty  would  lead,  and  as 
to  the  course  which  in  respect  of  it  Her  Majesty's  Government 
have  thought  it  their  duty  to  pursue. 

The  treaty  is  one  of  twenty-seven  or  twenty-nine  articles, 
•and,  with  the  exception  of  a  merely  technical  one,  every  one  of 
them  is  a  deviation  from  the  articles  of  the  treaties  of  1856 
and  1871.  I  do  not  say  that  every  article  of  the  treaty  of  San 
Stefano  would  be  a  violation  of  the  treaties  of  1856  and  1871, 


170  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

because  that  would  be  a  hard  phrase.  If  the  Government  of 
Russia  were  prepared,  as  we  believed  they  were  prepared,  to 
place  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  before  the  Congress,  I  should 
look  at  the  deviations  between  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  and 
the  treaties  of  1856  and  1871,  not  as  violations,  but  rather  as 
suggestions  of  the  Russian  Government  to  be  laid  before  the 
Congress  in  order  that  they  might  be  considered,  and,  if  just, 
be  adopted  by  the  other  Powers  of  Europe.  But  let  us  look  at 
what  this  treaty  does — this  treaty  which  was  negotiated  in  such 
secrecy  and  encircled  in  mystery  to  such  a  degree  that  the 
Porte  was  commanded  by  Russia  not  to  let  a  single  article  of  it 
be  known  to  the  neutral  Powers,  without  whose  neutrality  she 
could  not  have  gained  the  advantages  she  enjoyed,  and  which 
would  not  have  been  shown  unless  it  had  been  believed  that,  as 
regarded  the  other  Powers,  Russia  would  feel  bound  by  the 
treaties  of  1856  and  1871.  Well,  my  lords,  the  treaty  of  San 
Stefano  completely  abrogates  what  is  known  as  Turkey  in 
Europe  ;  it  abolishes  the  dominion  of  the  Ottoman  Empire  in 
Europe ;  it  creates  a  large  State  which,  under  the  name  of 
Bulgaria,  is  inhabited  by  many  races  not  Bulgarians.  This 
Bulgaria  goes  to  the  shores  of  the  Black  Sea  and  seizes  the 
ports  of  that  sea ;  it  extends  to  the  coast  of  the  JEgean  and 
appropriates  the  ports  of  that  coast.  The  treaty  provides  for 
the  government  of  this  new  Bulgaria,  under  a  prince  who  is  to 
be  selected  by  Russia,  its  administration  is  to  be  organised  and 
supervised  by  a  commissary  of  Russia,  and  this  new  State  is  to 
be  garrisoned,  I  say  for  an  indefinite  period,  but  at  all  events 
for  two  years  certain,  by  Russia. 

My  lords,  it  is  not  merely  this  vast  district,  this  vast  space 
of  country,  which  is  taken  from  the  Porte  for  which  the  power 
and  the  government  of  Russia  is  substituted  by  the  stipulations 
in  this  treaty,  but  for  the  distant  provinces  of  Bosnia,  and 
Epirus,  and  Thessaly  there  are  instituted  new  laws  which  are  to 
be  revised  by  Russia  and  afterwards  supervised  by  Russia ;  so 
that  we  say  all  the  European  dominions  of  the  Ottoman  Porte 
are  taken  from  the  Porte  and  put  under  the  administration  of 
Russia.  My  lords,  it  is  not  difficult  to  see  that  the  effect  of  all 
the  stipulations  combined,  will  be  to  make  the  Black  Sea  as 


SPEECH   ON   CALLING   OUT   EESERVE   FOECES,   APEIL   1878.    171 

much  a  Russian  lake  as  the  Caspian.  The  harbour  of  Batoum, 
which  is  still  in  possession  of  the  Porte,  is  seized  by  Russia,  all 
the  strongholds  in  Armenia  are  seized  by  Russia,  and  the  portion 
of  that  great  province  nominally  left  to  Turkey,  will  be  governed 
by  law  supervised  by  Russia.  The  next  point  which  I  feel  it 
necessary  to  bring  under  the  consideration  of  your  lordships,  is 
that  of  the  claim  of  Russia  to  the  district  of  Bessarabia,  of  which 
she  was  deprived  after  the  Crimean  War.  My  lords,  I  need  not 
recall  to  your  recollection  the  distressing  circumstances  which 
are  now  arriving  and  which  have  arrived  with  reference  to  that 
portion  of  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano ;  but  I  want  to  point  out 
to  your  lordships  that  here  it  is  not  a  matter  of  trifling  or  local 
interest  which  is  at  stake.  The  clause  in  the  Treaty  of  Paris 
with  regard  to  the  cession  of  Bessarabia  was  one  on  which  Lord 
Palmerston  placed  the  utmost  stress,  and  to  which  he  attached 
the  very  greatest  importance.  It  involved  the  emancipation  of 
the  Danube,  and,  accordingly,  Lord  Palmerston  treated  it  as  an 
article,  not  of  local,  but  of  European  interest.  It  was  inserted 
in  the  original  preliminaries  of  the  treaty,  and  an  attempt  was 
made  by  Russia  to  evade  it ;  but  Lord  Palmerston  attached 
such  importance  to  it  that  the  Congress  of  Paris  was  nearly 
breaking  up  because  of  the  efforts  made  not  to  have  that  article 
carried  into  effect. 

The  great  interest  felt  at  the  Congress  of  Paris  in  taking 
security  against  the  closing  of  those  seas  and  the  closing  of 
the  Danube,  is  a  mater  which  your  lordships  will  bear  in  mind 
when  examining  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano.  The  large  Euro- 
pean commerce  which  is  now  carried  on  from  Trebizond  to 
Russia  and  Central  Asia  may  be  stopped  at  the  pleasure  of 
Russia  in  consequence  of  cessions  in  Kurdistan.  But  what 
would  be  the  consequence  of  the  treaty  if  carried  out  with 
reference  to  the  navigation  of  the  Straits  ?  By  that  treaty  the 
Sultan  of  Turkey  is  reduced  to  a  state  of  absolute  subjugation 
to  Russia,  and,  either  as  to  the  opening  of  the  navigation  of 
the  Black  Sea  or  as  to  all  those  rights  and  privileges  with 
which  the  Sultan  was  invested  as  an  independent  sovereign, 
he  would  be  no  longer  in  the  position  in  which  he  was  placed 
by  the  European  treaties.  We  therefore  protest  against  an 


172  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

arrangement  which  practically  would  place  at  the  command  of 
Russia,  and  Russia  alone,  that  unrivalled  situation  and  its 
resources  which  the  European  Powers  placed  under  the  govern- 
ment of  the  Porte. 

Now,  my  lords,  this  treaty  was  signed  on  March  3,  but  it 
was  not  delivered  to  Her  Majesty's  Government  till  March  23. 
I  do  not  say  that  during  the  interval  we  had  not  by  extraordi- 
nary means  obtained  some  knowledge  of  its  provisions,  but  that 
was  knowledge  on  which  we  could  not  absolutely  rely ;  it  was 
knowledge  which,  like  all  knowledge  acquired  in  that  way,  was 
likely  to  be  in  some  degree  erroneous ;  but,  at  all  events,  it 
allowed  us  to  avail  ourselves  of  the   earliest  opportunity  of 
endeavouring  to  avert  what  we  conceived  to  be  mischievous 
results  to  all  Europe.     My  lords,  we  still  hoped  and  still  be- 
lieved that  a  Congress  might  be  obtained,  and  we  looked  to  it 
as  the  only  means  by  which  the  unsatisfactory  state  of  public 
affairs  might  be  remedied.     We  were  prepared,  if  all  the  Powers 
entered  into  the  Congress,  and  if  it  were  a  bonafide  Congress, 
and  in  accordance  with  the  positive  engagements  as  we  believed 
of  Russia — we  were  prepared,  I  say,  to  see  the  treaty  of  San 
Stefano  submitted  to  discussion  by  that  Congress  in  order  that, 
to  use  the  words  of  the  Austrian  Government,  a  reglement 
definitif  of  the  conditions  of  future  peace  might  be  arrived  at. 
It  appeared  to  us  that  the  circumstances  of  the  world  were  not 
unfavourable  to  that.     All  the  Great  Powers  of  Europe  during 
the  last  ten  years,  except  England,  unfortunately  for  them,' 
had  been  involved  in  fearful  wars,  and  were  suffering  from  the 
exhaustion  attendant  on  such  wars  ;  and  we  believed  that,  with 
the  general  and  natural  inclination  for  peace  arising  from  such 
circumstances,  the  discussions  of  a  Congress,  carried  on  as  a 
European  Congress  would  be,  would  prove  favourable  to  a  satis- 
factory solution  of  difficulties.     And,  my  lords,  we,  as  far  as  we 
were  concerned,  had  a  due  consideration  for  the  circumstances 
in  which  Russia  was  placed,  in  consequence  of  the  war  between 
her  and  Turkey,  because  we  could  not  expect  that  Russia  would 
appear  at^the  Congress  merely  in  the  same  character  as  she 
assumed  when  she  became  a  signatory  to  the  treaties  of  1856 
and  1871.     We  were  prepared  to  consider  the  events  that  had 


SPEECH   ON   CALLING   OUT  EESERVE  FORCES,   APRIL   1878.    173 

occurred ;  but,  having  regard  to  the  temper  with  which  we  ex- 
pected that  the  proposals  of  Kussia  would  be  considered, 
we  believed  that  Kussia  would  not  disappoint  the  other 
Powers.  We  regarded  it  as  being  for  her  own  advantage 
to  comply  with  the  engagements  into  which  she  had  entered, 
and  that,  acting  as  she  had  agreed  to  act  by  the  treaties  of  1856 
and  1871,  she  would  have  placed  before  the  Congress  the  stipu- 
lations of  all  the  articles  of  the  treaty. 

My  lords,  you  have  heard  from  me  in  my  previous  narrative 
how  these  hopes  were  disappointed.  My  lords,  it  was  when 
these  hopes  were  disappointed,  and  when  we  found  there  was 
no  chance  by  the  aid  of  treaties  or  by  the  public  law  of  Europe 
to  bring  about  a  settlement  of  those  great  affairs,  that  we  had 
to  consider  what  was  our  duty.  My  lords,  the  Congress  could 
not  meet  after  that  refusal  on  the  part  of  Russia  to  conform  to 
her  engagements  under  previous  treaties,  and  the  conditions 
which  England  put  forward  when  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano 
was  placed  before  the  European  Powers  were  conditions 
which  she  could  never  relinquish.  The  justice  of  them  has 
been  universally  acknowledged.  It  is  not  denied  even  by 
Russia.  What,  then,  was  the  state  of  affairs  ?  No  Congress 
was  to  meet,  and  a  most  important  portion  of  Eastern  Europe 
and  a  considerable  portion  of  Western  Asia  were  either  occupied 
by  an  invading  army  or  were  in  a  state  of  actual  rebellion.  It 
was  impossible  to  say  what  might  not  occur  in  circumstances  of 
such  difficulty  and  distress.  My  lords,  the  country  in  which 
these  events  were  occurring  is  a  country  which  has  always 
been  subject  to  strange  and  startling  vicissitudes.  In  the 
East  there  is  only  one  step  between  collapse  and  convulsion, 
and  it  was  possible  that  with  the  British  fleet  in  the  Darda- 
nelles, the  chief  highway  between  Europe  and  Asia  might  be 
seized,  and  that  the  commercial  road  from  Trebizond  to  Persia 
might  be  stopped. 

We  know  that,  if  not  in  the  memory  of  the  present  genera- 
tion, certainly  in  the  memory  of  some  members  of  your  lord- 
ships' House,  armies  marched  through  Syria  and  through  Asia 
without  firing  a  shot,  and  held  Constantinople  in  a  state  of 
trepidation.  Why  not  march  armies  in  the  same  way  and  hold 


174  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACON SF1ELD. 

Egypt  and  the  Suez  Canal  in  the  same  state  of  trepidation  as 
Constantinople  and  the  Bosphorus  was  held  at  that  time? 
In  those  circumstances,  there  was,  in  our  opinion,  only  one 
course  to  take.  When  everything  was  unsettled  ;  when  there 
was  no  prospect  of  a  settlement ;  when  there  seemed  no  pro- 
bability of  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  being  submitted  for  dis- 
cussion to  the  European  Powers,  and  of  the  public  law  being 
vindicated ;  when  all  Europe  was  armed,  was  England  to  be  dis- 
armed ?  Was  England  to  be  deterred  from  doing  her  duty  to 
herself  and  to  Europe  by  taunts  and  threats — because  we  were 
told  that  we  were  menacing  when  we  thought  to  conciliate  ? 
My  lords,  our  fleet,  which  has  reached  the  waters  of  the  Darda- 
nelles, has  acted  in  a  manner  worthy  of  it,  and  in  the  manner 
it  might  have  been  expected  to  act ;  but  I  have  always  thought 
that  when  it  is  found  necessary  to  show  our  strength,  certainly 
England  should  not  be  limited  to  one  of  her  services — that  she 
should  appeal  to  her  military  force  to  maintain  her  honour  and 
her  interests,  as  well  as  to  her  marine. 

Well,  my  noble  lords,  in  those  circumstances  we  felt  it  our 
duty  to  advise  Her  Majesty  to  send  the  message  to  your  lord- 
ships' House  the  answer  to  which  I  am  about  to  propose. 
{Cheers.)  And  here  let  me  make  one  remark  upon  the  act  of 
the  Sovereign  in  that  particular.  It  is  the  first  time  the  Sove- 
reign of  this  country  has  sent  down  such  a  message  to  Parlia- 
ment, because  this  message  is  in  virtue  of  an  Act  of  Parliament 
which  was  passed  only  a  very  few  years  ago.  That  Act  was  in 
consequence  of  a  great  military  reform,  which  was  inaugurated 
by  the  last  Government,  and  particularly  by  the  noble  viscount 
(Viscount  Card  well)  opposite.  My  lords,  that  great  military 
reform  gave  rise  to  much  controversy  and  opposition  in  the 
country  ;  but,  as  has  been  the  case  in  respect  of  all  great  Acts 
of  our  legislature,  when  it  became  law  every  man  on  both  sides 
exerted  himself  to  carry  it  into  effect.  I  am  sure  that  during 
the  experience  of  the  present  Government — and  that  has  not 
been  a  short  one — there  has  been  an  unceasing  effort  to  carry 
into  effect  the  measures  and  policy  of  the  noble  viscount 
opposite.  I  feel  at  liberty  to  speak  on  this  point,  because  it  is 
my  lot  to  differ  from  many  of  my  friends  in  this  matter.  The 


SPEECH  ON   CALLING  OUT  EESEKVE  FOKCES,  APRIL   1878.     175 

great  principle  which  is  the  foundation  of  the  reserve  system — 
the  principle  of  short  service — is  one  which  I  have  had  the 
honour  to  support.  Well,  my  lords,  it  is  in  consequence  of 
that  reform  in  our  military  system,  and  the  institution  of  short 
service,  that  we  are  obliged  to  recommend  Her  Majesty  to  call 
out  our  reserves.  Under  the  new  military  system  it  was  laid 
down  that  a  battalion  in  time  of  war  or  on  active  service  should 
consist  of  not  less  than  1,000  men.  A  battalion  in  time  of 
peace  consists  of  only  500  men,  and  therefore  the  machinery  of 
reserves,  the  arrangement  introduced  by  the  noble  lord  opposite, 
that  there  should  be  with  this  short  service  a  means  by  which 
when  men  passed  through  their  short  service  and  left  their 
colours  they  might  become,  under  another  title,  the  soldiers  of 
Her  Majesty,  was  the  only  means  by  which  you  could  convert 
our  battalions  of  500  men,  in  case  of  emergency,  into  battalions 
of  1,000  men,  who  should  not  be  mere  raw  recruits. 

Now,  unfortunately,  the  name  for  this  force  is  not  a  very 
felicitous  one  ;  it  is  called  the  Eeserve  Force,  and  it  is  called 
the  Militia  Reserve  Force,  and  the  world  associates  with  the 
word  *  reserves '  some  resource  that  is  left  to  the  last,  that  is  only 
to  be  appealed  to  in  great  emergency,  and  is  to  be  the  ultimate 
means  by  which  you  can  effect  your  purpose.  But  this  is 
exactly  the  reverse  of  what  the  reserve  force  instituted  by 
the  noble  lord  opposite  is.  It  is  not  the  last  resource,  but  it  is 
the  first  resource  under  our  system.  At  this  moment  you 
really  cannot  put  a  corps  d'armee  into  the  field  in  a  manner 
which  would  satisfy  the  country,  unless  Her  Majesty  was 
advised  that  the  circumstances  justified  such  a  message  to  the 
House  from  the  Crown  as  I  brought  up  the  other  day.  Well, 
my  lords,  if  it  was  necessary  in  this  state  of  Europe  that  Her 
Majesty  should  have  a  sufficient  naval  and  military  force,  we 
could  take  no  step  but  that  which  we  advised  the  Crown  to 
adopt.  And  what  was  the  consequence  of  this  step?  Her 
Majesty  will  be  able  in  a  very  brief  space  of  time  to  possess  an 
army  of  70,000  men  fairly  and  even  completely  disciplined. 
It  is  double  the  force  of  Englishmen  that  Marlborough  or 
Wellington  ever  commanded ;  but  it  is  not  a  force  sufficient  to 


176  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD , 

carry  on  a  great  war.  If  England  is  involved  in  a  great  war 
our  military  resources  are  much  more  considerable  than  those 
you  may  put  in  motion  by  this  statute ;  but  it  is  the  only  way 
in  which  you  can  place  at  the  disposal  of  the  Crown  a  consider- 
able and  adequate  force  when  the  circumstances  of  the  country 
indicate  an  emergency. 

The  noble  lord  the  leader  of  the  Opposition  the  other 
night,  in  his  lively  and  satisfactory  answer  to  one  of  his  own 
supporters,  admitted  and  approved  the  satisfactory  state  in 
which  the  country  was  with  regard  to  defence.  He  said : — 
'  We  happen  to  know  from  the  Secretary  of  State  that  he  has  a 
corps  d'armee  ready,  and  that  in  a  short  time  he  can  have 
another.'  These  make  up  the  70,000  men  of  whom  I  speak, 
and  therefore  the  noble  lord  admitted  it  was  not  an  unreason- 
able amount  of  force  we  were  calling  upon  Parliament  to  grant. 
The  question,  therefore,  between  us  and  the  noble  lord  is  this — 
I  will  not  say  between  the  noble  lord  and  us,  but  between  us 
and  any  who  differ  from  the  policy  of  the  Government  in  this 
respect — are  the  circumstances  that  exist  in  the  East  of  Europe 
at  this  moment — do  the  circumstances  that  prevail  in  the 
Mediterranean  constitute  an  emergency  which  justifies  the 
demands  that  Her  Majesty  shall  not  only  have  a  powerful  navy 
in  these  waters,  but  shall  command,  if  necessary,  not  a  very 
considerable,  but  an  adequate  and  an  efficient  army?  Now, 
my  lords,  I  would  say  that  this  is  a  question  which  comes  home 
to  every  man's  bosom.  I  cannot  conceive  myself  that  in  the 
position  in  which  this  country  now  finds  itself,  when  an 
immense  revolution  in  an  important  portion  of  the  world  has 
occurred — a  revolution  which  involves  the  consideration  of 
some  of  the  most  important  interests  of  this  country,  and,  I 
may  say,  even  the  freedom  of  Europe — I  say  I  cannot  conceive 
that  any  person  who  feels  a  sense  of  responsibility  in  the 
conduct  of  affairs  could  for  a  moment  pretend  that,  when  all 
are  armed,  England  alone  should  be  disarmed. 

I  am  sure  my  noble  friend,1  whose  loss  I  so  much  deplore, 
would  never  uphold  that  doctrine,  or  he  would  not  have  added 
the  sanction  of  his  authority  to  the  meeting  of  Parliament  and 

1  Lord  Derby. 


SPEECH  ON  CALLING  OUT   KESEEVE  FOECES,   APEIL   1878.     17? 

the  appeal  we  made  to  Parliament  immediately  for  funds  ade- 
quate to  the  occasion  of  peril  which  we  believed  to  exist.     No 
I  do  not  think  such  things  of  him ;   and  to  the  individual  of 
whom  I  did  I  should  say,  Naviget  Anticyram  ;  only  I  trust,  for 
heaven's  sake,  that  his  lunacy  would  not  imperil  the  British 
Empire.     I  have  ever  considered  that  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment, of  whatever  party   formed,  are   the   trustees   of    that 
Empire.     That   Empire   was   formed    by   the   enterprise   and 
energy  of  your  ancestors,  my  lords ;  and  it  is  one  of  a  very 
peculiar  character.     I  know  no  example  of  it,  either  in  ancient 
or  modern  history.     No  Caesar  or  Charlemagne  ever  presided 
over  a  dominion  so  peculiar.     Its  flag  floats  on  many  waters  ; 
it  has  provinces  in  every  zone,  they  are  inhabited  by  persons  of 
different   races,    different   religion,    different    laws,   manners, 
customs.     Some  of  these  are  bound  to  us  by  the  ties  of  liberty, 
fully  conscious  that  without  their  connection  with  the  metro- 
polis they  have  no  security  for  public  freedom  and  self-govern- 
ment; others   are   bound   to   us  by  flesh  and   blood  and   by 
material  as  well  as  moral  considerations.     There  are  millions 
who  are  bound  to  us  by  our  military  sway,  and  they  bow  to 
that  sway  because  they  know  that  they  are  indebted  to  it  for 
order  and  justice.     All  these  communities  agree  in  recognising 
the  commanding  spirit  of  these  islands  that  has  formed  and 
fashioned  in  such  a  manner  so  great  a  portion  of  the  globe. 
My  lords,  that  Empire  is  no  mean  heritage ;  but  it  is  not  a 
heritage  that  can  only  be  enjoyed  ;  it  must  be  maintained,  and 
it  can  only  be  maintained  by  the  same  qualities  that  created  it 
—by  courage,  by  discipline,  by  patience,  by  determination,  and 
by  a  reverence  for  public  law  and  respect  for  national  rights. 
My  lords,  in  the  East  of  Europe  at  this  moment  some  securities 
of  that  Empire  are  imperilled.     I  never  can  believe  that  at 
such  a  moment  it  is  the  Peers  of  England  who  will  be  wanting 
to  uphold  the  cause  of  this  country.     I  will  not  believe  for 
a  moment  but  that  you  will  unanimously  vote  the  address  in 
answer  to  the  message  which  I  now  move.     The  motion  was  as 
follows : — 

'That  an  humble  address  be  presented  to  Her  Majesty, 
VOL.  u.  N 


178  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

thanking  Her  Majesty  for  her  most  gracious  message,  commu- 
nicating to  this  House  Her  Majesty's  intention  to  cause  the 
Keserve  Force  and  the  Militia  Reserve  Force,  or  such  part 
thereof  as  Her  Majesty  should  think  necessary,  to  be  forthwith 
called  out  for  permanent  service.' 


179 


BERLIN   TREATY. 

Speech  in  House  of  Lords  July  18,  1878,  after  the  return  from 
Berlin. 

[The  calling  out  of  the  Reserves  in  the  month  of  April  had  been 
followed  by  the  still  more  vigorous  step  of  bringing  up  to  Malta  a 
division  of  our  Indian  army.     The  right  of  the  Crown  to  employ 
Indian  troops  on  this  service  had  given  rise  to  the  most  animated  de- 
bates of  the  session  in  both  Houses,  in  which,  however,  Lord  Beacons - 
field    took    only  a    subordinate    part.     But,    right    or    wrong     on 
constitutional  grounds,  the  measure  seems  to  have  been  eminently 
successful  on  diplomatic  ones.     Russia  at  once  began  to  lower  her 
pretensions,  and  agreed  eventually  to  the  demands  of  England  that  the 
treaty  of  San  Stefano  should  be  entrusted  to  a  European  Congress. 
Early  in  June  Lord  Beaconsfield  and  Lord   Salisbury  went  out  as 
the   English   plenipotentiaries    to   the    Congress   of   Berlin.      They 
arrived  in  London  on  their  return  on  July  15,  and  were  greeted  with 
an  ovation  which  has  not  many  parallels  in  our  history.     Three  days 
afterwards  Lord  Beaconsfield  delivered  the  following 'speech  in  the 
House  of  Lords,  which  was  crowded  before  five  o'clock  to  listen  to  the 
great  orator  and  successful  diplomatist.     The  galleries  were  thronged 
with  princesses  and  peeresses,  the  Princess  of  Wales  being  among  the 
number;  and  everything  denoted  a  degree  of  interest  and  enthusiasm 
which  neither  the  people  nor  the  aristocracy  of  this  country  are  in  the 
habit  of  exhibiting.     Lord  Beaconsfield's  contention  was  that  by  the 
Treaty  of  Berlin  we  had  so  modified  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano,  con- 
cluded between  Russia  and  Turkey  under  protest  from  this  country, 
that   we   had   restored   the   independence   of  the   Turkish    Empire' 
Turkey  exists  once  more  ! '  was  the  exclamation  of  Prince  Bismarck 
when  the  line  of  the  Balkans  was   secured  for  her.      He  further 
maintained  that  by  the  occupation  of  Cyprus  and  the  superintendence 
of  Asia  Minor  we  had  diminished,  not  increased,  our  responsibilities. 
We  must,  under  any  circumstances,  have  resisted  a  Russian  invasion 
w  Asia  Minor;  and  by  removing  all  pretext  for  such  a  movement  we 
had  in  reality  reduced  the  chance  of  being  forced  into  hostilities  in 


N   2 


180  SPEECHES  OF   THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

future.  Mr.  Gladstone,  three  years  afterwards,  in  paying  a  tribute  to 
the  memory  of  his  deceased  rival,  singled  out  this  moment  as  the 
culminating  point  of  his  greatness  in  the  eyes  of  those  who  regarded 
his  policy  with  admiration  ;  and  he  applied  to  his  Berlin  triumph  the 
well-known  words  of  Virgil — 

Aspice  ut  insignis  spoliis  Marcellus  opimis, 
Ingreditur,  victorque  viros  surpereminet  omnes. 

His  subsequent  fortunes  suggest  to  us  the  words  of  another  Latin 
poet,  who  said  that  Marius  would  have  been  the  greatest  and  most 
fortunate  man  whom  either  Rome  or  nature  had  produced  if  only  his 
great  soul  had  taken  flight— 

Quum  de  Teutonico  vellet  descendere  curru.] 

MY  LORDS,  in  laying  on  the  table  of  your  lordships'  House, 
as  I  am  about  to  do,  the  protocols  of  the  Congress  of 
Berlin,  I  have  thought  I  should  be  only  doing  my  duty  to 
your  lordships'  House,  to  Parliament  generally,  and  to  the  coun- 
try, if  I  made  some  remarks  on  the  policy  which  was  supported 
by  the  representatives  of  Her  Majesty  at  the  Congress,  and 
which  is  embodied  in  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  and  in  the  conven- 
tion which  was  placed  on  your  lordships'  table  during  my 

absence. 

My  lords,  you  are  aware  that  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano 
was  looked  on  with  much  distrust  and  alarm  by  Her  Majesty's 
Government — that  they  believed  it  was  calculated  to  bring 
about  a  state  of  affairs  dangerous  to  European  independence 
and  injurious  to  the  interests  of  the  British  Empire.  Our  im- 
peachment of  that  policy  is  before  your  lordships  and  the  coun- 
try, and  is  contained  in  the  circular  of  my  noble  friend  the 
Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  in  April  last.  Our  pre- 
sent contention  is,  that  we  can  show  that,  by  the  changes  and 
modifications  which  have  been  made  in  the  treaty  of  San 
Stefano  by  the  Congress  of  Berlin  and  the  Convention  of  Con- 
stantinople, the  menace  to  European  independence  has  been 
removed,  and  the  threatened  injury  to  the  British  Empire  has 
been  averted.  Your  lordships  will  recollect  that  by  the  treaty 
of  San  Stefano  about  one  half  of  Turkey  in  Europe  was  formed 
into  a  State  called  Bulgaria — a  State  consisting  of  upwards  of 


BEELIN   TKEATY.  181 

50,000  geographical  square  miles,  and  containing  a  population 
of  4,000,000,  with  harbours  on  either  sea — both  on  the  shores 
of  the  Euxine  and  of  the  Archipelago.  That  disposition  of 
territory  severed  Constantinople  and  the  limited  district  which 
was  still  spared  to  the  possessors  of  that  city — severed  it  from 
the  provinces  of  Macedonia  and  Thrace  by  Bulgaria  descend- 
ing to  the  very  shores  of  the  ^Egean  ;  and,  altogether,  a  State 
was  formed,  which,  both  from  its  natural  resources  and  its 
peculiarly  favourable  geographical  position,  must  necessarily 
have  exercised  a  predominant  influence  over  the  political  and 
commercial  interests  of  that  part  of  the  world.  The  remain- 
ing portion  of  Turkey  in  Europe  was  reduced  also  to  a  con- 
siderable degree  by  affording  what  was  called  compensation  to 
previous  rebellious  tributary  principalities,  which  have  now 
become  independent  States — so  that  the  general  result  of  the 
treaty  of  San  Stefano  was,  that  while  it  spared  the  authority 
of  the  Sultan  so  far  as  his  capital  and  its  immediate  vicinity,  it 
reduced  him  to  a  state  of  subjection  to  the  great  Power  which 
had  defeated  his  armies,  and  which  was  present  at  the  gates  of 
his  capital.  Accordingly,  though  it  might  be  said  that  he  still 
seemed  to  be  invested  with  one  of  the  highest  functions  of 
public  duty — the  protection  and  custody  of  the  Straits — it  was 
apparent  that  his  authority  in  that  respect  could  be  exercised 
by  him  in  deference  only  to  the  superior  Power  which  had  van- 
quished him,  and  to  whom  the  proposed  arrangements  would 
have  kept  him  in  subjection. 

My  lords,  in  these  matters  the  Congress  of  Berlin  have 
made  great  changes.  They  have  restored  to  the  Sultan  two- 
thirds  of  the  territory  which  was  to  have  formed  the  great 
Bulgarian  State.  They  have  restored  to  him  upwards  of  30,000 
geographical  square  miles,  and  2,500,000  of  population — that 
territory  being  the  richest  in  the  Balkans,  where  most  of  the 
land  is  rich,  and  the  population  one  of  the  wealthiest,  most 
ingenious,  and  most  loyal  of  his  subjects.  The  frontiers  of  his 
State  have  been  pushed  forward  from  the  mere  environs  of 
Salonica  and  Adrianople  to  the  lines  of  the  Balkans  and 
Trajan's  pass ;  the  new  principality,  which  was  to  exercise  such 
an  influence,  and  produce  a  revolution  in  the  disposition -of  the 


182  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

territory  and  policy  of  that  part  of  the  globe,  is  now  merely  a 
State  in  the  Valley  of  the  Danube,  and  both  in  its  extent  and 
its  population  is  reduced  to  one-third  of  what  was  contemplated 
by  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano.  My  lords,  it  has  been  said  that 
while  the  Congress  of  Berlin  decided  upon  a  policy  so  bold  as 
that  of  declaring  the  range  of  the  Balkans  as  the  frontier  of 
what  may  now  be  called  New  Turkey,  they  have,  in  fact,  fur- 
nished it  with  a  frontier  which,  instead  of  being  impregnable, 
is  in  some  parts  undefended,  and  is  altogether  one  of  an  in- 
adequate character. 

My  lords,  it  is  very  difficult  to  decide,  so  far  as  nature  is 
concerned,  whether  any  combination  of  circumstances  can  ever 
be  brought  about  which  would  furnish  what  is  called  an  im- 
pregnable frontier.  Whether  it  be  river,  desert,  or  moun- 
tainous range,  it  will  be  found,  in  the  long  run,  that  the 
impregnability  of  a  frontier  must  be  supplied  by  the  vital 
spirit  of  man ;  and  that  it  is  by  the  courage,  discipline,  patriot- 
ism, and  devotion  of  a  population  that  impregnable  frontiers 
can  alone  be  formed.  And,  my  lords,  when  I  remember  what 
race  of  men  it  was  that  created  and  defended  Plevna,  I  must 
confess  my  confidence  that,  if  the  cause  be  a  good  one,  they 
will  not  easily  find  that  the  frontier  of  the  Balkans  is  in- 
defensible. But  it  is  said  that  although  the  Congress  has 
furnished — and  it  pretended  to  furnish  nothing  more — a  com- 
petent military  frontier  to  Turkey,  the  disposition  was  so  ill- 
managed,  that,  at  the  same  time,  it  failed  to  secure  an  effective 
barrier — that  in  devising  the  frontier,  it  so  arranged  matters 
that  this  very  line  of  the  Balkans  may  be  turned.  The  Con- 
gress has  been  charged  with  having  committed  one  of  the 
greatest  blunders  that  could  possibly  have  been  accomplished 
by  leaving  Sofia  in  the  possession  of  a  Power  really  indepen- 
dent of  Turkey,  and  one  which,  in  the  course  of  time,  might 
become  hostile  to  Turkey.  My  lords,  this  is,  in  my  opinion, 
an  error  on  the  part  of  those  who  furnish  information  of  an 
authentic  character  to  the  different  populations  of  Europe,  who 
naturally  desire  to  have  correct  information  on  such  matters. 

It  is  said  that  the  position  of  Sofia  is  of  a  commanding 
character,  and  that  of  its   value  the  Congress  were  not  aware, 


BEKLIN  TEE  AT  Y.  183 

and  that  it  was  yielded  to  an  imperious  demand  on  the  part 
of  one  of  the  Powers  represented  at  the  Congress.  My  lords, 
I  can  assure  your  lordships  that  there  is  not  a  shadow  of  truth 
in  the  statement.  I  shall  show  that  when  the  Congress  re- 
solved to  establish  the  'line  of  the  Balkans  as  the  frontier  of 
Turkey,  they  felt  that  there  would  have  been  no  difficulty,  as 
a  matter  of  course,  in  Turkey  retaining  possession  of  Sofia. 
What  happened  was  this.  The  highest  military  authority  of 
the  Turks — so  I  think  I  may  describe  him — was  one  of  the 
plenipotentiaries  at  the  Congress  of  the  Porte — I  allude  to 
Mehemet  AH  Pasha.  Well,  the  moment  the  line  of  the  Bal- 
kans was  spoken  of,  he  brought  under  the  notice  of  his  col- 
leagues at  the  Conference — and  especially,  I  may  say,  of  the 
plenipotentiaries  of  England — his  views  on  the  subject,  and, 
speaking  as  he  did  not  only  with  military  authority,  but  also 
with  consummate  acquaintance  with  all  those  localities,  he 
said  nothing  could  be  more  erroneous  than  the  idea  that  Sofia 
was  a  strong  strategic  position,  and  that  those  who  possessed 
it  would  immediately  turn  the  Balkans  and  march  on  Constan- 
tinople. He  said  that  as  a  strategical  position  it  was  worthless, 
but  that  there  was  a  position  in  the  Sandjak  of  Sofia  which,  if 
properly  defended,  might  be  regarded  as  impregnable,  and  that 
was  the  pass  of  Ichtiman.  He  thought  it  of  vital  importance 
to  the  Sultan  that  that  position  should  be  secured  to  Turkey, 
as  then  His  Majesty  would  have  an  efficient  defence  to  his 
capital. 

That  position  was  secured.  It  is  a  pass  which,  if  properly 
defended,  will  prevent  any  host,  however  powerful,  from  taking 
Constantinople  by  turning  the  Balkans.  But,  in  consequence 
of  that  arrangement,  it  became  the  duty  of  the  plenipoten- 
tiaries to  see  what  would  be  the  best  arrangement  in  regard  of 
Sofia  and  its  immediate  districts.  The  population  of  Sofia  and 
its  district  are,  I  believe,  without  exception,  Bulgarian,  and 
it  was  thought  wise,  they  being  Bulgarians,  that  if  possible  it 
should  be  included  in  Bulgaria.  That  was  accomplished  by 
exchanging  it  for  a  district  in  which  the  population,  if  not 
exclusively,  are  numerically  Mahometan,  and  which,  so  far  as 
the  fertility  of  the  land  is  concerned,  is  an  exchange  highly 


184  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACON SFIELD. 

to  the  advantage  of  the  Porte.  That,  my  lords.,  is  a  short 
account  of  an  arrangement  which  I  know  has  for  a  month  past 
given  rise  in  Europe,  and  especially  in  this  country,  to  a  belief 
that  it  was  in  deference  to  Russia  that  Sofia  was  not  retained, 
and  that  by  its  not  having  been  retained  Turkey  had  lost  the 
means  of  defending  herself,  in  the  event  of  her  being  again 
plunged  into  war. 

My  lords,  it  has  also  been  said,  with  regard  to  the  line  of 
the  Balkans,  that  it  was  not  merely  in  respect  of  the  possession 
of  Sofia  that  an  error  was  committed,  but  that]the  Congress  made 
a  great  mistake  in  not  retaining  Varna.  My  lords,  I  know  that 
there  are  in  this  assembly  many  members  who  have  recollec- 
tions— glorious  recollections — of  that  locality.  They  will  know 
at  once  that  if  the  line  of  the  Balkans  were  established  as  the 
frontier,  it  would  be  impossible  to  include  Varna,  which  is  to 
the  north  of  the  Balkans.  Varna  itself  is  not  a  place  of  import- 
ance, and  only  became  so  in  connection  with  a  system  of  forti- 
fications, which  are  now  to  be  rased.  No  doubt,  in  connection 
with  a  line  of  strongholds,  Varna  formed  a  part  of  a  system  of 
defence  ;  but  of  itself  Varna  is  not  a  place  of  importance.  Of 
itself,  it  is  only  a  roadstead,  and  those  who  dwell  upon  the  im- 
portance of  Varna,  and  consider  that  it  was  a  great  error  on  the 
part  of  the  Congress  not  to  have  secured  it  for  Turkey,  quite 
forget  that  between  the  Bosphorus  and  Varna,  upon  the  coast 
of  the  Black  Sea,  the  Congress  has  allotted  to  Turkey  a  much 
more  important  point  on  the  Black  Sea — the  harbour  of  Burgos. 
My  lords,  I  think  I  have  shown  that  the  charges  made  against 
the  Congress  on  these  three  grounds — the  frontiers  of  the 
Balkans,  the  non-retention  of  Sofia,  and  the  giving  up  of  Varna 
— have  no  foundation  whatever. 

Well,  my  lords,  having  established  the  Balkans  as  the  fron- 
tier of  Turkey  in  Europe,  the  Congress  resolved  that  south  of 
the  Balkans,  to  a  certain  extent,  the  country  should  be  formed 
into  a  province,  to  which  should  be  given  the  name  of  Eastern 
Roumelia.  At  one  time  it  was  proposed  by  some  to  call  it 
South  Bulgaria ;  but  it  was  manifest  that  with  such  a  name 
between  it  and  North  Bulgaria  there  would  be  constant 
intriguing  to  bring  about  a  union  between  the  two  provinces. 


BERLIN  TKEATY.  185 

We  therefore  thought  that  the  province  of  East  Eoumelia  should 
be  formed,  and  that  there  should  be  established  in  it  a  Govern- 
ment somewhat  different  from  that  of  contiguous  provinces 
where  the  authority  of  the  Sultan  might  be  more  unlimited.  I 
am  not  myself  of  opinion  that,  as  a  general  rule,  it  is  wise  to 
interfere  with  a  military  Power  which  you  acknowledge ;  but 
though  it  might  have  been  erroneous  as  a  political  principle  to 
limit  the  military  authority  of  the  Sultan,  yet  there  are  in 
this  world  other  things  besides  political  principles ;  there  are 
such  things  as  historical  facts  ;  and  he  would  not  be  a  prudent 
statesman  who  did  not  take  into  consideration  historical  facts 
as.  well  as  political  principles.  The  province  which  we  have 
formed  into  Eastern  Roumelia  had  been  the  scene  of  many 
excesses,  by  parties  on  both  sides,  to  which  human  nature  looks 
with  deep  regret ;  and  it  was  thought  advisable,  in  making 
these  arrangements  for  the  peace  of  Europe,  that  we  should  take 
steps  to  prevent  the  probable  recurrence  of  such  events.  Yet 
to  do  this  and  not  give  the  Sultan  a  direct  military  authority 
in  the  province  would  have  been,  in  our  opinion,  a  grievous 
error.  We  have  therefore  decided  that  the  Sultan  should  have 
the  power  to  defend  the  barrier  of  the  Balkans  with  all  his 
available  force.  He  has  power  to  defend  his  frontiers  by  land 
and  by  sea,  both  by  the  passes  of  the  mountains  and  the 
ports  and  strongholds  of  the  Black  Sea.  No  limit  has  been 
placed  on  the  amount  of  force  he  may  bring  to  bear  with  that 
object.  No  one  can  dictate  to  him  what  the  amount  of  that 
force  shall  be ;  but,  in  respect  to  the  interior  and  internal 
government  of  the  province,  we  thought  the  time  had  arrived 
when  we  should  endeavour  to  carry  into  effect  some  of  those 
important  proposals  intended  for  the  better  administration  of 
the  States  of  the  Sultan,  which  were  discussed  and  projected  at 
the  Conference  of  Constantinople. 

My  lords,  I  will  not  enter  into  any  minute  details  on  these 
questions ;  they  might  weary  you  at  this  moment,  and  I  have 
several  other  matters  on  which  I  must  yet  touch ;  but,  generally 
speaking,  I  imagine  there  are  three  great  points  which  we  shall 
have  before  us  in  any  attempt  to  improve  the  administration  of 
Turkish  dominion.  First  of  all — it  is  most  important,  and  we 


186  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

have  so  established  it  in  Eastern  Roumelia — that  the  office  of 
Governor  shall  be  for  a  specific  period,  and  that,  as  in  India,  it 
should  not  be  for  less  than  five  years.  If  that  system  generally 
obtained  in  the  dominions  of  the  Sultan,  I  believe  it  would  be 
of  incalculable  benefit.  Secondly,  we  thought  it  desirable  that 
there  should  be  instituted  public  assemblies,  in  which  the 
popular  element  should  be  adequately  represented,  and  that  the 
business  of  those  assemblies  should  be  to  levy  and  administer 
the  local  finances  of  the  province.  And  thirdly,  we  thought  it 
equally  important  that  order  should  be  maintained  in  this 
province,  either  by  a  gendarmerie  of  adequate  force  or  by  a  local 
militia,  in  both  cases  the  officers  holding  their  commission  from 
the  Sultan.  But  the  whole  subject  of  the  administration  of 
Eastern  Eoumelia  has  been  referred  to  an  Imperial  Commission 
at  Constantinople,  and  this  commission,  after  making  its  investi- 
gations, will  submit  recommendations  to  the  Sultan,  who  will 
issue  firmans  to  carry  those  recommendations  into  effect.  I  may 
mention  here,  as  it  may  save  time,  that  in  all  the  arrangements 
which  have  been  made  to  improve  the  condition  of  the  subject- 
races  of  Turkey  in  Europe,  inquiry  by  local  commissions  where 
investigation  may  be  necessary  is  contemplated.  Those  com- 
missions are  to  report  their  results  to  the  chief  commission ; 
and,  after  the  firman  of  the  Sultan  has  been  issued,  the  changes 
will  take  place.  It  is  supposed  that  in  the  course  of  three 
months  from  the  time  of  the  ratification  of  the  Treaty  of  Berlin 
the  principal  arrangements  may  be  effected. 

My  lords,  I  may  now  state  what  has  been  effected  by  the 
Congress  in  respect  of  Bosnia — that  being  a  point  on  which,  I 
think,  considerable  error  prevails.  One  of  the  most  difficult 
matters  we  had  to  encounter  in  attempting  what  was  the  object 
of  the  Congress  of  Berlin — namely,  to  re-establish  the  Sultan  as 
a  real  and  substantial  authority — was  the  condition  of  some  of 
his  distant  provinces,  and  especially  of  Bosnia.  The  state  of 
Bosnia,  and  of  those  provinces  and  principalities  contiguous 
it,  was  one  of  chronic  anarchy.  There  is  no  language  whicl 
can  describe  adequately  the  condition  of  that  large  portion  of 
the  Balkan  peninsula  occupied  by  Roumania,  Servia,  Bosnia 
Herzegovina,  and  other  provinces.  Political  intrigues,  constant 


BERLIN  TREATY.  187 

rivalries,  a  total  absence  of  all  public  spirit,  and  of  the  pursuit 
of  objects  which  patriotic  minds  would  wish  to  accomplish,  the 
hatred  of  races,  the  animosities  of  rival  religions,  and,  above  all, 
the  absence  of  any  controlling  power  that  could  keep  these 
large  districts  in  anything  like  order  :  such  were  the  sad  truths, 
which  no  one  who  has  investigated  the  subject  could  resist  for 
a  moment.  Hitherto,  at  least  until  within  the  last  two  years, 
Turkey  had  some  semblance  of  authority  which,  though  it  was 
rarely  adequate,  and  when  adequate,  was  unwisely  exercised, 
still  was  an  authority  to  which  the  injured  could  appeal,  and 
which  sometimes  might  control  violence.  But  the  Turkey  of 
the  present  time  was  in  no  condition  to  exercise  that  authority. 
I  inquired  into  the  matter  of  those  most  competent  to  give  an 
opinion,  and  the  result  of  my  investigation  was  a  conviction 
that  nothing  short  of  an  army  of  50,000  men  of  the  best  troops 
of  Turkey  would  produce  anything  like  order  in  those  parts,  and 
that,  were  the  attempt  to  be  made,  it  would  be  contested  and 
resisted,  and  might  finally  be  defeated. 

But  what  was  to  be  said  at  a  time  when  all  the  statesmen  of 
Europe  were  attempting  to  concentrate  and  condense  the  re- 
sources of  the  Porte  with  the  view  of  strengthening  them — what 
would  have  been  the  position  of  the  Porte  if  it  had  to  commence 
its  new  career — a  career,  it  is  to  be  hoped,  of  amelioration  and 
tranquillity — by  despatching  a  large  army  to  Bosnia  to  deal  with 
those  elements  of  difficulty  and  danger  ?  It  is  quite  clear,  my 
lords,  that  such  an  effort  at  this  moment  by  Turkey  might  bring 
about  its  absolute  ruin.  Then  what  was  to  be  done  ?  There 
have  been  before,  in  the  history  of  diplomacy,  not  unfrequent 
instances  in  which,  even  in  civilised  parts  of  the  globe,  States 
having  fallen  into  decrepitude,  have  afforded  no  assistance  to 
keep  order  and  tranquillity,  and  have  become,  as  these  districts 
have  become,  a  source  of  danger  to  their  neighbours.  Under 
such  circumstances,  the  Powers  of  Europe  have  generally  looked 
to  see  whether  there  was  any  neighbouring  Power  of  a  character 
entirely  different  from  those  disturbed  and  desolated  regions, 
but  deeply  interested  in  their  welfare  and  prosperity,  who 
would  undertake  the  task  of  attempting  to  restore  their  tran- 
quillity and  prosperity. 


188  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

In  the  present  case  you  will  see  that  the  position  of  Austria 
is  one  that  clearly  indicates  her  as  fitted  to  undertake  such  an 
office.  It  is  not  the  first  time  that  Austria  has  occupied  provinces 
at  the  request  of  Europe  to  ensure  that  order  and  tranquillity, 
which  are  European  interests,  might  prevail  in  them.  Not  once, 
twice,  or  thrice  has  Austria  undertaken  such  an  office.  There 
may  be  differences  of  opinion  as  to  the  policy  on  which  Austria 
has  acted,  or  as  to  the  principles  of  government  which  she  has 
maintained ;  but  that  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  fact  that, 
under  circumstances  similar  to  those  I  have  described  as  existing 
in  Bosnia  and  the  provinces  contiguous  to  it,  Austria  has  been 
invited  and  has  interfered  in  the  manner  I  have  described,  and 
has  brought  about  order  and  tranquillity.  Austria  in  the  present 
case  was  deeply  interested  that  some  arrangement  should  be 
made.  Austria,  for  now  nearly  three  years,  has  had  upwards  of 
15,000  refugees  from  Bosnia,  which  have  been  supported  by  her 
resources,  and  whose  demands  notoriously  have  been  of  a  vexa- 
tious and  exhausting  character.  It  was  therefore  thought  ex- 
pedient by  the  Congress  that  Austria  should  be  invited  to  occupy 
Bosnia,  and  not  to  leave  it  until  she  had  deeply  laid  the  foun- 
dations of  tranquillity  and  order.  My  lords,  I  am  the  last  man 
who  would  wish,  when  objections  are  made  to  our  proceedings, 
to  veil  them  under  the  decision  of  the  Congress  ;  it  was  a  decision 
which  the  plenipotentiaries  of  England  highly  approved.  It 
was  a  proposal  which,  as  your  lordships  will  see  when  you  refer 
to  the  protocols  which  I  shall  lay  on  the  table,  was  made  by  my 
noble  friend  the  Secretary  of  State,  that  Austria  should  accept 
this  trust  and  fulfil  this  duty ;  and  I  earnestly  supported  him 
on  that  occasion. 

My  lords,  in  consequence  of  that  arrangement  cries  have 
been  raised  against  our  *  partition  of  Turkey.'  My  lords,  our 
object  has  been  directly  the  reverse,  our  object  has  been  to  pre- 
vent partition.  The  question  of  partition  is  one  upon  which, 
it  appears  to  me,  very  erroneous  ideas  are  in  circulation.. 
Some  two  years  ago — before,  I  think,  the  war  had  commenced,, 
but  when  the  disquietude  and  dangers  of  the  situation  were 
very  generally  felt — there  was  a  school  of  statesmen  who  were 
highly  in  favour  of  what  they  believed  to  be  the  only  remedy, 


BERLIN  TREATY.  189 

what  they  called  the  partition  of  Turkey.  Those  who  did  not 
agree  with  them  were  those  who  thought  we  should,  on  the 
whole,  attempt  the  restoration  of  Turkey.  Her  Majesty's 
Government  at  all  times  have  resisted  the  partition  of  Turkey. 
They  have  done  so  because,  exclusive  of  the  high  moral  con- 
siderations that  are  mixed  up  with  the  subject,  they  believed 
an  attempt,  on  a  great  scale,  to  accomplish  the  partition  of 
Turkey,  would  inevitably  lead  to  a  long,  a  sanguinary,  and  often 
recurring  struggle,  and  that  Europe  and  Asia  would  both  be 
involved  in  a  series  of  troubles  and  sources  of  disaster  and 
danger  of  which  no  adequate  idea  could  be  formed. 

These  professors  of  partition — quite  secure,  no  doubt,  in  their 
own  views — have  freely  spoken  to  us  on  this  subject.  We  have 
been  taken  up  to  a  high  mountain  and  shown  all  the  king- 
doms of  the  earth,  and  they  have  said,  '  All  these  shall  be 
yours  if  you  will  worship  Partition.'  But  we  have  declined  to 
do  so  for  the  reasons  I  have  shortly  given.  And  it  is  a  remark- 
able circumstance  that  after  the  great  war,  and  after  the  pro- 
longed diplomatic  negotiations,  which  lasted  during  nearly  a 
period  of  three  years,  on  this  matter,  the  whole  Powers  of 
Europe,  including  Kussia,  have  strictly,  and  as  completely  as 
ever,  come  to  the  unanimous  conclusion  that  the  best  chance 
for  the  tranquillity  and  order  of  the  world  is  to  retain  the  Sultan 
as  part  of  the  acknowledged  political  system  of  Europe.  My 
lords,  unquestionably  after  a  great  war — and  I  call  the  late  war 
a  great  war,  because  the  greatness  of  a  war  now  must  not  be 
calculated  by  its  duration,  but  by  the  amount  of  the  forces 
brought  into  the  field,  and  where  a  million  of  men  have 
struggled  for  supremacy,  as  has  been  the  case  recently,  I  call 
that  a  great  war — but,  I  say,  after  a  great  war  like  this,  it  is 
utterly  impossible  that  you  can  have  a  settlement  of  any  per- 
manent character  without  a  redistribution  of  territory  and  con- 
siderable changes.  But  that  is  not  partition.  My  lords,  a 
country  may  have  lost  provinces,  but  that  is  not  partition.  We 
know  that  not  very  long  ago  a  great  country — one  of  the  fore- 
most countries  of  the  world — lost  provinces ;  yet  is  not  France 
one  of  the  great  Powers  of  the  world,  and  with  a  future — a 
commanding  future  ? 


190  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   JBEACONSFIELD. 

Austria  herself  has  lost  provinces — more  provinces  even 
than  Turkey,  perhaps ;  even  England  has  lost  provinces — the 
most  precious  possessions — the  loss  of  which  every  Englishman 
must  deplore  to  this  moment.  We  lost  them  from  bad  govern- 
ment. Had  the  principles  which  now  obtain  between  the 
metropolis  and  her  dependencies  prevailed  then,  we  should  not, 
perhaps,'  have  lost  those  provinces,  and  the  power  of  this  Empire 
would  have  been  proportionally  increased.  It  is  perfectly  true 
that  the  Sultan  of  Turkey  has  lost  provinces ;  it  is  true  that 
his  armies  have  been  defeated ;  it  is  true  that  his  enemy  is  even 
now  at  his  gates ;  but  all  that  has  happened  to  other  Powers. 
But  a  sovereign  who  has  not  yet  forfeited  his  capital,  whose 
capital  has  not  yet  been  occupied  by  his  enemy — and  that 
capital  one  of  the  strongest  in  the  world — who  has  armies  and 
fleets  at  his  disposal,  and  who  still  rules  over  20,000,000  of 
inhabitants,  cannot  be  described  as  a  Power  whose  dominions 
have  been  partitioned.  My  lords,  it  has  been  said  that  no 
limit  has  been  fixed  to  the  occupation  of  Bosnia  by  Austria. 
Well,  I  think  that  was  a  very  wise  step.  The  moment  you 
limit  an  occupation  you  deprive  it  of  half  its  virtue.  All  those 
opposed  to  the  principles  which  occupation  was  devised  to  foster 
and  strengthen,  feel  that  they  have  only  to  hold  their  breath 
and  wait  a  certain  time,  and  the  opportunity  for  their  inter- 
ference would  again  present  itself.  Therefore,  I  cannot  agree 
with  the  objection  which  is  made  to  the  arrangement  with 
regard  to  the  occupation  of  Bosnia  by  Austria  on  the  question 
of  its  duration. 

My  lords,  there  is  a  point  on  which  I  feel  it  now  my  duty 
to  trouble  your  lordships,  and  that  is  the  question  of  Greece.  A 
severe  charge  has  been  made  against  the  Congress,  and  particu- 
larly against  the  English  plenipotentiaries,  for  not  having 
sufficiently  attended  to  the  interests  and  claims  of  Greece. 
My  lords,  I  think  you  will  find,  on  reflection,  that  that  charge 
is  utterly  unfounded.  The  English  Government  were  the  first 
that  expressed  the  desire  that  Greece  should  be  heard  at  the 
Congress.  But,  while  they  expressed  that  desire,  they  com- 
municated confidentially  to  Greece  that  it  must  on  no  account 
associate  that  desire  on  the  part  of  the  Government  with  any 


BERLIN   TREATY.  191 

engagement  for  the  redistribution  of  territory.  That  was 
repeated,  and  not  merely  once  repeated.  The  Greek  inhabit- 
ants, apart  from  the  kingdom  of  Greece,  are  a  considerable 
element  in  the  Turkish  Empire,  and  it  is  of  the  greatest  im- 
portance that  their  interests  should  be  sedulously  attended  to. 
One  of  the  many  evils  of  that  large  Slav  State — the  Bulgaria 
of  the  San  Stefano  treaty — was,  that  it  would  have  absorbed, 
and  made  utterly  to  disappear  from  the  earth,  a  considerable 
Greek  population.  At  the  Congress  the  Greeks  were  heard,  and 
they  were  heard  by  representatives  of  considerable  eloquence 
and  ability ;  but  it  was  quite  clear,  the  moment  they  put  their 
case  before  the  Congress,  that  they  had  totally  misapprehended 
the  reason  why  the  Congress  had  met  together,  and  what  were 
its  objects  and  character.  The  Greek  representatives,  evidently, 
had  not  in  any  way  relinquished  what  they  call  their  great  idea 
— and  your  lordships  well  know  that  it  is  one  which  has  no 
limit  which  does  not  reach  as  far  as  Constantinople.  But  they 
did  mention  at  the  Congress,  as  a  practical  people,  and  feeling 
that  they  had  no  chance  of  obtaining  at  that  moment  all  they 
desired — that  they  were  willing  to  accept  as  an  instalment 
the  two  large  provinces  of  Epirus  and  Thessaly,  and  the  island 
of  Crete.  It  was  quite  evident  to  the  Congress,  that  the  repre- 
sentatives of  Greece  utterly  misunderstood  the  objects  of  our 
labours ;  that  we  were  not  there  to  partition  Turkey,  and  give 
them  their  share  of  Turkey,  but  for  a  very  contrary  purpose ; 
as  far  as  we  could,  to  re-establish  the  dominion  of  the  Sultan  on 
a  rational  basis,  to  condense  and  concentrate  his  authority,  and 
to  take  the  opportunity — of  which  we  have  largely  availed  our- 
selves— of  improving  the  condition  of  his  subjects. 

I  trust,  therefore,  when  I  have  pointed  out  to  your  lordships 
this  cardinal  error  in  the  views  of  Greece,  that  your  lordships 
will  feel  that  the  charge  made  against  the  Congress  has  no  sub- 
stantial foundation.  But  the  interests  of  Greece  were  not  neg- 
lected, and  least  of  all  by  Her  Majesty's  Government.  Before 
the  Congress  of  Berlin,  believing  that  there  was  an  opportunity 
of  which  considerable  advantage  might  be  made  for  Greece  with- 
out deviating  into  partition,  we  applied  to  the  Porte  to  consider 
the  long-vexed  question  of  the  boundaries  of  the  two  States. 


192  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

The  boundaries  of  Greece  have  always  been  inadequate  and 
inconvenient ;  they  ~are  so  formed  as  to  offer  a  premium  to 
brigandage — which  is  the  curse  of  both  countries,  and  has  led 
to  misunderstanding  and  violent  intercourse  between  the 
inhabitants  of  both.  Now,  when  some  redistribution — and  a 
considerable  redistribution — of  territories  was  about  to  take 
place,  now,  we  thought,  was  the  opportunity  for  Greece  to  urge 
her  claim;  and  that  claim  we  were  ready  to  support ;  and  to 
reconcile  the  Porte  to  viewing  it  in  a  large  and  liberal  manner. 
And  I  am  bound  to  say  that  the  manner  in  which  our  overtures 
were  received  by  the  Porte  was  encouraging,  and  more  than 
encouraging.  For  a  long  period  Her  Majesty's  Government  have 
urged  upon  both  countries,  and  especially  upon  Greece,  the 
advantage  of  a  good  understanding  between  them.  We  urged 
that  it  was  only  by  union  between  Turks  and  Greeks  that  any 
reaction  could  be  obtained  against  that  overpowering  Slav 
interest  which  was  then  exercising  such  power  in  the  Peninsula, 
and  which  had  led  to  this  fatal  and  disastrous  war.  More  than 
this,  on  more  than  one  occasion — I  may  say,  on  many  occasions 
— we  have  been  the  means  of  preventing  serious  misunderstand- 
ings between  Turkey  and  Greece,  and  on  every  occasion  we 
have  received  from  both  States  an  acknowledgment  of  our  good 
offices. 

We  were,  therefore,  in  a  position  to  assist  Greece  in  this 
matter.  But,  of  course,  to  give  satisfaction  to  a  State  which 
coveted  Constantinople  for  its  capital,  and  which  talked  of 
accepting  large  provinces  and  a  powerful  island  as  only  an 
instalment  of  its  claims  for  the  moment,  was  difficult.  It  was 
difficult  to  get  the  views  of  that  Government  accepted  by 
Turkey,  however  inclined  it  might  be  to  consider  a  reconstruc- 
tion of  frontiers  on  a  large  and  liberal  scale.  My  noble  friend 
the  Secretary  of  State  did  use  all  his  influence,  and  the  result 
was  that,  in  my  opinion,  Greece  has  obtained  a  considerable 
accession  of  resources  and  strength.  But  we  did  not  find  on 
the  part  of  the  representatives  of  Greece  that  response  or  that 
sympathy  which  we  should  have  desired.  Their  minds  were  in 
another  quarter.  But  though  the  Congress  could  not  meet  such 
extravagant  and  inconsistent  views  as  those  urged  by  Greece — 


BERLIN   TEEATY.  193 

views  which  were  not  in  any  way  within  the  scope  of  the  Con- 
gress or  the  area  of  its  duty — we  have  still,  as  will  be  found  in 
the  treaty,  or  certainly  in  the  protocol,  indicated  what  we 
believe  to  be  a  rectification  of  frontier,  which  would  add 
considerably  to  the  strength  and  resources  of  Greece.  There- 
fore, I  think,  under  all  the  circumstances,  it  will  be  acknow- 
ledged that  Greece  has  not  been  neglected.  Greece  is  a 
country  so  interesting,  that  it  enlists  the  sympathies  of  all 
educated  men.  Greece  has  a  future,  and  I  would  say,  if  I 
might  be  permitted,  to  Greece,  what  I  would  say  to  an  indi- 
vidual who  has  a  future — *  Learn  to  be  patient.' 

Now,  my  lords,  I  have  touched  upon  most  of  the  points 
connected  with  Turkey  in  Europe.  My  summary  is  that  at 
this  moment — of  course,  no  longer  counting  Servia  or  Eou- 
mania,  once  tributary  principalities,  as  part  of  Turkey ;  not 
counting  even  the  New  Bulgaria,  though  it  is  a  tributary  prin- 
cipality, as  part  of  Turkey ;  and  that  I  may  not  be  taunted 
with  taking  an  element  which  I  am  hardly  entitled  to  place  in 
the  calculation,  omitting  even  Bosnia — European  Turkey  still 
remains  a  dominion  of  60,000  geographical  square  miles,  with 
a  population  of  6,000,000,  and  that  population  in  a  very  great 
degree  concentrated  and  condensed  in  the  provinces  contiguous 
to  the  capital.  My  lords,  it  was  said,  when  the  line  of  the 
Balkans  was  carried — and  it  was  not  carried  until  after  long 
and  agitating  discussions — it  was  said  by  that  illustrious  states- 
man who  presided  over  our  labours,  that  *  Turkey  in  Europe 
once  more  exists.'  My  lords,  I  do  not  think  that,  so  far  as 
European  Turkey  is  concerned,  this  country  has  any  right  to 
complain  of  the  decisions  of  the  Congress,  or,  I  would  hope,  of 
the  labours  of  the  plenipotentiaries.  You  cannot  look  at  the 
map  of  Turkey  as  it  had  been  left  by  the  treaty  of  San  Stefario, 
and  as  it  has  been  rearranged  by  the  Treaty  of  Berlin,  with- 
out seeing  that  great  results  have  accrued.  If  these  results 
had  been  the  consequences  of  a  long  war — if  they  had  been 
the  results  of  a  struggle  like  that  we  underwent  in  the  Crimea 
— I  do  not  think  they  would  have  been  even  then  unsubstan- 
tial or  unsatisfactory.  My  lords,  I  hope  that  you  and  the 
country  will  not  forget  that  these  results  have  been  obtained 

VOL.    II.  O 


194  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD, 

without  shedding  the  blood  of  a  single  Englishman ;  and  if 
there  has  been  some  expenditure,  it  has  been  an  expenditure 
which,  at  least,  has  shown  the  resources  and  determination  of 
this  country.  Had  you  entered  into  that  war— for  which  you 
were  prepared— and  well  prepared— probably  in  a  month  you 
would  have  exceeded  the  whole  expenditure  you  have  now  in- 
curred. 

My  lords,  I  now  ask  you  for  a  short  time  to  quit  Europe 
and  to  visit  Asia,  and  consider  the  labours  of  the  Congress  in 
another  quarter  of  the  world.     My  lords,  you  well  know  that 
the  Russian  arms  met  with  great  success  in  Asia,  and  that  in 
the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  considerable  territories  were  yielded 
by  Turkey  to  Russia.     In  point  of  population  they  may  not 
appear  to  be  of  that  importance  that  they  are  generally  con- 
sidered ;  because  it  is  a  fact  which  should  be  borne  in  mind 
that  the  population  which  was  yielded  to  Russia  by  Turkey 
amounted  only  to  about  250,000  souls ;  and,  therefore,  if  you 
look   to  the  question  of  population,  and   to   the   increase  of 
strength  in  a  State  which  depends  on  population,  you  would 
hardly  believe  that  the  acquisition  of  250,000  new  subjects  is 
a  sufficient  return  for  the  terrible  military  losses  which  inevi- 
tably  must   accrue   from   campaigns   in   that   country.      But 
although  the  amount  of  population  was  not  considerable,  the 
strength  which  the  Russians  acquired  was  of  a  very  differei 
character.     They  obtained  Ears  by  conquest— they  obtain* 
Ardahan— another   stronghold— they   obtained    Bayazid— at 
the  Valley  of  Alashkerd  with  the  adjoining  territory,  whi< 
contain  the  great  commercial  routes  in  that  part  of  the  wof 
They  also  obtained  the  port  of  Batoum. 

Now,  my  lords,  the  Congress  of  Berlin  have  so  far  sanctioi 
the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  that,  with  the  exception  of  Bayazid 
the  valley  I  have  mentioned — no  doubt  very  important  ex( 
tions,  and  which  were  yielded  by  Russia  to  the  views  of 
Congress — they  have  consented  to  the  yielding  of  the  place 
have  named  to  Russia.    The  Congress  have  so  far  approved 
treaty  of  San  Stefano  that  they  have  sanctioned  the  retent 
by  Russia  of  Kars  and  Batoum.     Now  the  question  arises- 
the  Congress  having  come  to  that  determination — Was  it 


BEELIN   TKEATY.  195 

wise  step  on  the  part  of  the  plenipotentiaries  of  Her  Majesty 
to  agree  to  that  decision?  That  is  a  question  which  may 
legitimately  be  asked.  We  might  have  broken  up  the  Con- 
gress and  said,  '  We  will  not  consent  to  the  retention  of  these 
places  by  Kussia,  and  we  will  use  our  force  to  oblige  her  to 
yield  them  up.'  Now,  my  lords,  I  wish  fairly  to  consider  what 
was  our  position  in  this  state  of  affairs.  It  is  often  argued  as 
if  Eussia  and  England  had  been  at  war,  and  peace  was  nego- 
tiating between  the  two  Powers.  That  was  not  the  case.  The 
rest  of  Europe  were  critics  over  a  treaty  which  was  a  real 
treaty  that  existed  between  Eussia  and  Turkey.  Turkey  had 
given  up  Batoum,  she  had  given  up  Kars  and  Ardahan,  she 
had  given  up  Bayazid. 

In  an  examination  of  the  question,  then,  we  must  remember 
that  Eussia  at  this  moment,  so  far  as  Europe  is  concerned,  has 
acquired  in  Europe  nothing  but  a  very  small  portion  of  territory, 
occupied  by  130,000  inhabitants.     Well,  she  naturally  expected 
to  find  some  reward  in  her  conquests  in  Armenia  for  the  sacri- 
fices which  she  had  made.      Well,  my  lords,  consider  what  those 
conquests  are.     There  was  the  strong  fort  of  Kars.     We  might 
have  gone  to  war  with  Eussia  in  order  to  prevent  her  acquiring 
Kars  and  Batoum,  and  other  places  of  less  importance.     The 
war  would  not  have  been,  probably,  a  very  short  war.     It  would 
have  been  a  very  expensive  war— and,  like  most  wars,  it  would 
probably  have  ended  in  some  compromise,  and  we  should  have 
got  only  half  what  we  had  struggled  for.     Let  us  look  these 
two  considerable  points  fairly  in  the  face.     Let  us  first  of  all 
take  the  great  stronghold  of  Kars.     Three  times  has  Eussia 
captured  Kars.     Three  times,  either  by  our  influence  or  by 
other  influences,  it  has  been  restored  to  Turkey.     Were  we  to 
go  to  war  for  Kars  and  restore  it  to  Turkey,  and  then  to  wait 
till  the  next  misunderstanding  between  Eussia  and  Turkey, 
when  Kars  should  have  been  taken  again  ?     Was  that  an  occa- 
sion of  a  casus  belli  ?     I  do  not  think  your  lordships  would 
ever  sanction  a  war  carried  on  for  such  an  object  and  under 
such  circumstances. 

Then,  my  lords,  look  at  the  case  of  Batoum,  of  which  your 
lordships  have  heard  so  much.     I  should  have  been  very  glad  if 

o  2 


196     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

Batoum  had  remained  in  the  possession  of  the  Turks,  on  the 
general  principle  that  the  less  we  had  reduced  its  territory  in 
that  particular  portion  of  the  globe,  the  better  it  would  be  as 
regards  the  prestige  on  which  the  influence  of  the  Ottoman 
Porte  much  depends  there.  But  let  us  see  what  is  this  Batoum 
of  which  you  have  heard  so  much.  It  is  generally  spoken  of 
in  society  and  in  the  world  as  if  it  were  a  sort  of  Portsmouth — 
whereas,  in  reality,  it  should  rather  be  compared  with  Gowes.  It 
will  hold  three  considerable  ships,  and  if  it  were  packed  like  the 
London  docks,  it  might  hold  six ;  but  in  that  case  the  danger, 
if  the  wind  blew  from  the  north,  would  be  immense.  You 
cannot  increase  the  port  seaward  ;  for  though  the  water  touching 
the  shore  is  not  absolutely  fathomless,  it  is  extremely  deep,  and 
you  cannot  make  any  artificial  harbour  or  breakwater.  Un- 
questionably, in  the  interior  the  port  might  be  increased,  but 
it  can  only  be  increased  by  first-rate  engineers,  and  the  ex- 
penditure of  millions  of  capital ;  and  if  we  were  to  calculate 
the  completion  of  the  port  by  the  precedents  which  exist  in 
many  countries,  and  certainly  in  the  Black  Sea,  it  would  not  be 
completed  under  half  a  century.  Now  is  that  a  question  for 
which  England  would  be  justified  in  going  to  war  with  Russia  ? 
My  lords,  we  have,  therefore,  thought  it  advisable  not  to  grudge 
Russia  those  conquests  which  have  been  made — especially  after 
obtaining  the  restoration  of  the  town  of  Bayazid  and  its  im- 
portant district. 

But  it  seemed  to  us  the  time  had  come  when  we  ought  to 
consider  whether  certain  efforts  should  not  be  made  to  put  an 
end  to  these  perpetually  recurring  wars  between  the  Porte  and 
Russia,  ending,  it  may  be,  sometimes  apparently^  compara- 
tively insignificant  results ;  but  always  terminating  with  one 
fatal  consequence — namely,  shaking  to  the  centre  the  influence 
and  the  prestige  of  the  Porte  in  Asia,  and  diminishing  its 
means  of  profitably  and  advantageously  governing  that  country. 
My  lords,  it  seemed  to  us  that  as  we  had  now  taken,  and  as 
Europe  generally  had  taken,  so  avowedly  deep  an  interest  in 
the  welfare  of  the  subjects  of  the  Porte  in  Europe,  the  time 
had  come  when  we  ought  to  consider  whether  we  could  not  do 
something  which  would  improve  the  general  condition  of  the 


t  the 


BERLIN   TREATY.  197 

dominions  of  the  Sultan  in  Asia ;  and,  instead  of  these  most 
favoured  portions  of  the  globe  every  year  being  in  a  more 
forlorn  and  disadvantageous  position,  whether  it  would  not  be 
possible  to  take  some  steps  which  would  secure  at  least  tran- 
quillity and  order;  and,  when  tranquillity  and  order  were 
secured,  whether  some  opportunity  might  not  be  given  to 
Europe  to  develop  the  resources  of  a  country  which  Nature  has 
made  so  rich  and  teeming. 

My  lords,  we  occupy  with  respect  to  this  part  of  the  world 
a  peculiar  position,  which  is  shared  by  no  other  Power.     Our 
Indian  Empire  is  on  every  occasion  on  which  these  discussions 
occur,  or  these  troubles  occur,  or  these  settlements  occur — our 
Indian  Empire  is  to  England  a  source  of  grave  anxiety,  and 
the  time  appeared  to  have  arrived  when,  if  possible,  we  should 
terminate  that  anxiety.     In  all  the  questions  connected  with 
European  Turkey  we  had  the  assistance  and  sympathy  sometimes 
of  all,  and  often  of  many,  of  the  European  Powers — because  they 
were  interested  in  the  question  who  should  possess  Constanti- 
nople, and  who  should  have  the  command  of  the  Danube  and  the 
freedom  of  the  Mediterranean.    But  when  we  came  to  consider- 
ations connected  with  our  Oriental  Empire  itself,  they  naturally 
are  not  so  generally  interested  as  they  are  in  those  which  relate 
to  the  European  portion  of  the  dominions  of  the  Porte,  and  we 
have  to  look  to  our  own  resources  alone.     There  has  been  no 
want,  on  our  part,  of  invitations  to  neutral  Powers  to  join  with 
us  in  preventing  or  in  arresting  war.     Besides  the  great  Treaty 
of  Paris,  there  was  the  tripartite  treaty,1  which,  if  acted  upon, 
would  have  prevented  war.     But  that  treaty  could  not  be  acted 
upon,  from  the  unwillingness  of  the  parties  to  it  to  act ;  and 
therefore  we  must  clearly  perceive  that  if  anything  could  be 
effectually  arranged,  as  far  as  our  Oriental  Empire  is  concerned, 
the  arrangements  must  be  made  by  ourselves.     Now,  this  was 
the  origin  of  that  Convention  at  Constantinople  which  is  on 
your  lordships'  table,  and  in  that  Convention  our  object  was  not 
merely  a  military  or  chiefly  a  military  object.     Our  object  was 
to  place  this  country  certainly  in  a  position  in  which  its  advice 

1  April  29,  1856,  between  England,  France,  and  Austria,  guaranteeing  the 
integrity  of  the  Ottoman  Empire. 


198  SPEECHES   OF   THE   EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELT). 


and  in  which  its  conduct  might  at  least  have  the  advantage  of 
being  connected  with  a  military  power  and  with  that  force 
which  it  is  necessary  to  possess  often  in  great  transactions, 
though  you  may  not  fortunately  feel  that  it  is  necessary  to 
have  recourse  to  that  force. 

Our  object  in  entering  into  that  arrangement  with  Turkey 
was,  as  I  said  before,  to  produce  tranquillity  and  order.  When 
tranquillity  and  order  were  produced,  we  believed  that  the 
time  would  come  when  the  energy  and  enterprise  of  Europe 
might  be  invited  to  what  really  is  another  continent,  as  far  as 
the  experience  of  man  is  concerned,  and  that  its  development 
will  add  greatly  not  merely  to  the  wealth  and  the  prosperity  of 
the  inhabitants,  but  to  the  wealth  and  prosperity  of  Europe. 
My  lords,  I  am  surprised  to  hear — for  though  I  have  not  heard 
it  myself  from  any  authority,  it  is  so  generally  in  men's  mouths 
that  I  am  bound  to  notice  it — that  the  step  we  have  taken 
should  be  represented  as  one  that  is  calculated  to  excite  the 
suspicion  or  enmity  of  any  of  our  allies,  or  of  any  State.  My 
lords,  I  am  convinced  that  when  a  little  time  has  elapsed,  and 
when  people  are  better  acquainted  with  this  subject  than  they 
are  at  present,  no  one  will  accuse  England  of  having  acted  in 
this  matter  but  with  frankness  and  consideration  for  other 
Powers.  And  if  there  be  a  Power  in  existence  to  which  we 
have  endeavoured  to  show  most  consideration  from  particular 
circumstances  in  this  matter  it  is  France.  There  is  no  step  of 
this  kind  that  I  would  take  without  considering  the  effect  it 
might  have  upon  the  feelings  of  France — a  nation  to  whom  we 
are  bound  by  almost  every  tie  that  can  unite  a  people,  and 
with  whom  our  intimacy  is  daily  increasing.  If  there  could 
be  any  step  which  of  all  others  was  least  calculated  to  excite 
the  suspicion  of  France,  it  would  appear  to  be  this — because 
we  avoided  Egypt,  knowing  how  susceptible  France  is  with 
regard  to  Egypt ;  we  avoided  Syria,  knowing  how  susceptible 
France  is  on  the  subject  of  Syria ;  and  we  avoided  availing 
ourselves  of  any  part  of  the  terra,  firmo^  because  we  would  not 
hurt  the  feelings  or  excite  the  suspicions  of  France.  France 
knows  that  for  the  last  two  or  three  years  we  have  listened  to 
no  appeal  which  involved  anything  like  an  acquisition  of  terri- 


BERLIN   TREATY.  199 

tory,  because  the  territory  which  might  have  come  to  us  would 
have  been  territory  which  France  would  see  in  our  hands  with 
suspicion  and  dislike. 

But  I  must  make  this  observation  to  your  lordships.  We 
have  a  substantial  interest  in  the  East ;  it  is  a  commanding 
interest,  and  its  behest  must  be  obeyed.  But  the  interest  of 
France  in  Egypt,  and  her  interest  in  Syria,  are,  as  she  acknow- 
ledges, sentimental  and  traditionary  interests ;  and,  although  I 
respect  them,  and  although  I  wish  to  see  in  the  Lebanon  and 
Egypt  the  influence  of  France  fairly  and  justly  maintained, 
and  although  her  officers  and  ours  in  that  part  of  the  world — 
and  especially  in  Egypt — are  acting  together  with  confidence 
and  trust,  we  must  remember  that  our  connection  with  the  East 
is  not  merely  an  affair  of  sentiment  and  tradition,  but  that  we 
have  urgent  and  substantial  and  enormous  interests  which  we 
must  guard  and  keep.  Therefore,  when  we  find  that  the  progress 
of  Kussia  is  a  progress  which,  whatever  may  be  the  intentions 
of  Eussia,  necessarily  in  that  part  of  the  world  produces  such 

»a  state  of  disorganisation  and  want  of  confidence  in  the  Porte, 
it  comes  to  this — that  if  we  do  not  interfere  in  vindication  of 
our  own  interests,  that  part  of  Asia  must  become  the  victim  of 
anarchy,  and  ultimately  become  part  of  the  possessions  of 
Eussia. 

Now,  my  lords,  I  have  ventured  to  review  the  chief  points 
connected  with  the  subject  on  which  I  wished  to  address  you — 
namely,  what  was  the  policy  pursued  by  us,  both  at  the  Con- 
gress of  Berlin  and  in  the  Convention  of  Constantinople  ?  I  am 
told,  indeed,  that  we  have  incurred  an  awful  responsibility  by 
the  Convention  into  which  we  have  entered.  My  lords,  a  pru- 
dent minister  certainly  would  not  recklessly  enter  into  any 
responsibility ;  but  a  minister  who  is  afraid  to  enter  into  any 
responsibility  is,  to  my  mind,  not  a  prudent  minister.  We  do 
not,  my  lords,  wish  to  enter  into  any  unnecessary  responsibility ; 
but  there  is  one  responsibility'from  which  we  certainly  shrink  ; 
we  shrink  from  the  responsibility  of  handing  to  our  successors 
a  weakened  or  a  diminished  Empire.  Our  opinion  is,  that  the 
course  we  have  taken  will  arrest  the  great  evils  which  are 
destroying  Asia  Minor  and  the  equally  rich  countries  beyond. 


200  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

We  see  in  the  present  state  of  affairs  the  Porte  losing  its  influ- 
ence over  its  subjects;  we  see  a  certainty,  in  our  opinion,  of 
increasing  anarchy,  of  the  dissolution  of  all  those  ties  which, 
though  feeble,  yet  still  exist  and  which  have  kept  society  to- 
gether in  those  countries  We  see  the  inevitable  result  of  such 
a  state  of  things,  and  we  cannot  blame  Eussia  for  availing  herself 
of  it.  But,  yielding  to  Eussia  what  she  has  obtained,  we  say 
to  her — '  Thus  far,  and  no  farther.'  Asia  is  large  enough  for 
both  of  us.  There  is  no  reason  for  these  constant  wars,  or  fears 
of  wars,  between  Eussia  and  England.  Before  the  circum- 
stances which  led  to  the  recent  disastrous  war,  when  none  of 
those  events  which  we  have  seen  agitating  the  world  had 
occurred,  and  when  we  were  speaking  in  '  another  place '  of  the 
conduct  of  Eussia  in  Central  Asia,  I  vindicated  that  conduct, 
which  I  thought  was  unjustly  attacked,  and  I  said  then — what 
I  repeat  now — there  is  room  enough  for  Eussia  and  England  in 
Asia. 

But  the  room  that  we  require  we  must  secure.  We  have, 
therefore,  entered  into  an  alliance — a  defensive  alliance — 
with  Turkey,  to  guard  her  against  any  further  attack  from 
Eussia.  We  believe  that  the  result  of  this  Convention  will  be 
order  and  tranquillity.  And  then  it  will  be  for  Europe — for 
we  ask  no  exclusive  privileges  or  commercial  advantages — it 
will  then  be  for  Europe  to  assist  England  in  availing  ourselves 
of  the  wealth  which  has  been  so  long  neglected  and  undeveloped 
in  regions  once  so  fertile  and  so  favoured.  We  are  told,  as  I 
have  said  before,  that  we  are  undertaking  great  responsibilities. 
From  those  responsibilities  we  do  not  shrink.  We  think  that, 
with  prudence  and  discretion,  we  shall  bring  about  a  state  of 
affairs  as  advantageous  for  Europe  as  for  ourselves  ;  and  in  that 
conviction  we  cannot  bring  ourselves  to  believe  that  the  act 
which  we  have  recommended  is  one  that  leads  to  trouble  and 
to  warfare.  No,  my  lords,  I  am  sure  there  will  be  no  jealousy 
between  England  and  France  upon  this  subject.  In  taking 
Cyprus  the  movement  is  not  Mediterranean,  it  is  Indian. 
have  taken  a  step  there  which  we  think  necessary  for  th< 
maintenance  of  our  Empire  and  for  its  preservation  in  peace. 

If  that  be  our  first  consideration,  our  next  is  the  development 


BEELIN   TKEATY.  201 

of  the  country.  And  upon  that  subject  I  am  told  that  it  was 
expected  to-night  that  I  should  in  detail  lay  before  the  House 
the  minute  system  by  which  all  those  results  which  years  may 
bring  about  are  instantly  to  be  acquired.  I,  my  lords,  am 
prepared  to  do  nothing  of  the  kind.  We  must  act  with  con- 
siderable caution.  We  are  acting  with  a  Power,  let  me  remind 
the  House,  which  is  an  independent  Power — the  Sultan — and 
we  can  decide  nothing  but  with  his  consent  and  sanction.  We 
have  been  in  communication  with  that  Prince — who,  I  may  be 
allowed  to  remind  the  House,  has  other  things  to  think  about, 
even  than  Asia  Minor ;  for  no  man  was  ever  tried,  from  his 
accession  to  the  throne  till  this  moment,  so  severely  as  the 
Sultan  has  been ;  but  he  has  invariably  during  his  reign  ex- 
pressed his  desire  to  act  with  England  and  to  act  with  Europe, 
and  especially  in  the  better  administration  and  management  of 
his  affairs.  The  time  will  come — and  I  hope  it  is  not  distant 
• — when  my  noble  friend  the  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign 
Affairs  may  be  able  to  communicate  to  the  House  details  of 
these  matters,  which  will  be  most  interesting.  But  we  must 
protest  against  being  forced  into  statements  on  matters  of 
importance,  which  are  necessarily  still  immature.  And  we 
must  remember  that,  formally  speaking,  even  the  Treaty  of 
Berlin  has  not  been  ratified,  and  there  are  many  things  which 
cannot  even  be  commenced  until  the  ratification  of  that  treaty 
has  occurred. 

My  lords,  I  have  now  laid  before  you  the  general  outline  of 
the  policy  we  have  pursued,  both  in  the  Congress  of  Berlin  and 
at  Constantinople.  They  are  intimately  connected  with  each 
other,  and  they  must  be  considered  together.  I  only  hope  that 
the  House  will  not  misunderstand — and  I  think  the  country 
will  not  misunderstand — our  motives  in  occupying  Cyprus,  and 
in  encouraging  those  intimate  relations  between  ourselves  and 
the  Government  and  the  population  of  Turkey.  They  are  not 
movements  of  war  ;  they  are  operations  of  peace  and  civilisation. 
We  have  no  reason  to  fear  war.  Her  Majesty  has  fleets  and 
armies  which  are  second  to  none.  England  must  have  seen 
with  pride  the  Mediterranean  covered  with  her  ships  ;  she  must 
have  seen  with  pride  the  discipline  and  devotion  which  have 


202  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

been  shown  to  her  and  her  Government  by  all  her  troops, 
drawn  from  every  part  of  her  Empire.  I  leave  it  to  the  illus- 
trious duke,  in  whose  presence  I  speak,  to  bear  witness  to  the 
spirit  of  imperial  patriotism  which  has  been  exhibited  by  the 
troops  from  India,  which  he  recently  reviewed  at  Malta.  But 
it  is  not  on  our  fleets  and  armies,  however  necessary  they  may  be 
for  the  maintenance  of  our  imperial  strength,  that  I  alone  or 
mainly  depend  in  that  enterprise  on  which  this  country  is 
about  to  enter.  It  is  on  what  I  most  highly  value — the  con- 
sciousness that  in  the  Eastern  nations  there  is  confidence  in 
this  country,  and  that,  while  they  know  we  can  enforce  our 
policy,  at  the  same  time  they  know  that  our  Empire  is  an 
Empire  of  liberty,  of  truth,  and  of  justice. 


203 


DEFENCE    OF    MINISTERIAL    POLICY    IN    GENERAL 
AGAINST  THE  DUKE  OF  ARGYLL.     May  16,  1879. 

[In  the  middle  of  the  month  of  May  1879,  news  reached  this 
country  that  the  evacuation  of  Turkish  territory  by  Russian  troops 
was  all  but  completed,  and  that  there  were  other  main  stipulations  of 
the  Treaty  of  Berlin  now  on  the  point  of  fulfilment.  The  Duke  of 
Argyll  took  this  opportunity  of  delivering  a  general  attack  upon  the 
whole  position  of  the  Government  on  both  the  Turkish  and  the 
Afghan  questions,  deriding  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  as  only  the  treaty  of 
San  Stefano  in  disguise,  and  accusing  the  Government  of  duplicity  in 
their  dealings  with  the  Ameer.] 

THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD  :  My  lords,  you  are  aware, 
as  the  noble  duke  has  just  reminded  you,  that  at  this 
moment  the  Ameer  of  Afghanistan  is  a  self-invited  but  honoured 
guest  in  the  English  camp,  with  the  avowed  object  of  nego- 
tiating a  treaty  of  peace  and  friendship  with  the  Queen  of 
England,  and  I  may  say  that  under  those  circumstances,  when 
I  heard  of  the  intended  motion  of  the  noble  duke,  and  that  he 
was  going  to  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  the  results  of 
our  foreign  policy  in  Europe  and  Asia,  I  think  I  had  some 
reason  yesterday  to  remind  him  of  that  state  of  affairs  to  which 
I  have  referred,  and  to  leave  it  with  confidence  to  his  discretion, 
as  I  left  it  then,  to  observe  a  statesmanlike  silence  in  the  cir- 
cumstances now  existing.  My  lords,  I  have  been  deeply  disap- 
pointed in  these  expectations.  At  this  very  moment,  when  the 
questions  to  which  he  has  referred,  such  as  the  appointment  of 
a  European  resident  in  the  cities  of  that  Sovereign,  when  those 
questions  are  still  under  consideration,  and  which  at  this  very 
moment  are  the  subject  of  negotiations,  the  noble  duke  has 
thought  it  proper,  referring,  as  he  said,  only  to  the  past,  to 


204  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

treat  these  subjects  in  a  manner — and  in  a  manner  which  in 
the  present  conditions  of  communication  may  in  twenty-four 
hours  be  known  in  those  parts — which  certainly  may  greatly 
affect  the  carriage  of  those  negotiations.  When  I  consider  these 
circumstances,  when  I  remember  the  position  of  the  noble 
duke,  a  man  of  eminence  for  his  ability  and  so  exalted  in  his 
position,  a  man  who  has  more  than  once  been  the  trusted  coun- 
sellor of  his  Sovereign,  when  I  see  that  such  a  man  as  he  comes 
forward,  and  with  a  criticism  which  I  will  not  call  malevolent, 
but  which  certainly  was  envenomed,  attacks  the  policy  of  the 
Government  which  at  this  moment  must  be  being  weighed  and 
scanned  with  the  most  intense  interest  abroad,  I  must  say  that 
I  am  greatly  astonished.  My  Parliamentary  experience  has 
not  been  little,  but  certainly  in  the  course  of  that  experience  I 
remember  no  similar  instance  of  a  person  placed  in  so  high  a 
position  adopting  the  course  which  the  noble  duke  has  thought 
it  right  to  take. 

For  the  reasons  which  I  gave  yesterday  I  shall  certainly  not 
follow  the  noble  duke  into  the  subject  to  which  he  has  referred. 
My  noble  friend,  when  he  addresses  your  lordships,  will  find  that, 
although  for  the  moment  he  may  have  to  sacrifice  the  gratifica- 
tion of  vindicating  his  personal  honour,  there  are  still  various 
matters  with  respect  to  Afghanistan  to  which  the  noble  duke 
has  referred,  to  which  it  is  necessary  for  him  to  allude.  I,  how- 
ever, shall  not  touch  upon  them.  Unfortunately  for  us,  and 
perhaps  still  more  unfortunately  for  the  noble  duke  himself,  he 
was  not  present  when  the  debates  in  reference  to  Afghanistan 
were  held.  Those  of  your  lordships  who  were  present  at  those 
debates  can  scarcely  accept  as  accurate  the  picture  which  the 
noble  duke  drew  of  those  discussions.  Your  lordships  have 
been  told  by  the  noble  duke  that  you  were  obliged  to  consent 
to  a  hurried  vote,  moved  by  Her  Majesty's  Government,  who 
had  already  committed  the  country  to  a  certain  policy  with 
regard  to  Afghanistan.  Your  lordships  will  recollect  that,  on 
the  contrary,  the  subject  of  the  conduct  of  Her  Majesty's 
Government  in  reference  to  Afghanistan  was  discussed  for  thre 
nights  in  this  House.  Your  lordships  will  also  remember  that 
with  your  indulgence  I  felt  it  to  be  my  duty  to  wind  up  the 


MINISTERIAL  POLICY  IN  GENERAL,   MAY   1879.  205 

debate  upon  that  occasion,  and  that,  after  our  policy  had  been 
criticised  and  assailed  for  three  nights,  I  proved  by  the  produc- 
tion of  a  despatch  written  by  the  late  Viceroy  of  India  that  if 
the  distinguished  leaders  of  the  Opposition  had  been  in  office, 
they  would  have  pursued  exactly  the  same  policy  which  we  con- 
ceived and  which  we  had  the  courage  to  pursue.  The  result  of 
that  debate  was  that  when  the  matter  came  to  a  division  one 
of  the  largest  majorities  which  we  have  ever  had  in  this  House 
sealed  with  its  confidence  and  its  approbation  the  conduct  of 
Her  Majesty's  Government. 

I  will  endeavour  to  follow  the  noble  duke  through  the  other 
subjects  which  he  dealt  with  in  the  order  in  which  he  intro- 
duced them.  The  noble  duke,  as  some  compensation  for  the 
attack  which  he  made  upon  our  Indian  policy,  commenced  his 
address  by  congratulating  us.  The  noble  duke  congratulated 
us  upon  the  great  fact  that  in  part  fulfilment  of  the  Treaty  of 
Berlin  the  evacuation  of  Bosnia  and  Roumania  had  been  com- 
menced. The  noble  duke  in  congratulating  us  on  that  cir- 
cumstance said  that  it  was  true  at  the  same  time  that  the 
version  which  we  now  gave  of  the  obligatory  provision  in  the 
Treaty  of  Berlin  respecting  the  evacuation  of  those  provinces  was 
not  that  which  we  had  originally  given  of  it,  still  that  the  fact 
that  the  evacuation  had  commenced  was  so  satisfactory  that  he 
must  congratulate  us  upon  our  success  in  bringing  about  an 
agreement  under  which  Eussia  was  to  be  allowed  three  more 
months  in  which  to  complete  the  evacuation.  I  cannot  accept 
the  compliments  of  the  noble  duke.  I  have  always  placed  upon 
the  22nd  clause  of  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  exactly  the  same  inter- 
pretation which  I  understand  the  Government  of  Russia  now 
does.  My  noble  friend  and  myself,  who  have  worked  together  in 
these  transactions,  have,  I  believe,  never  differed  upon  any  single 
point  in  reference  to  the  treaty  except  this  :  I  certainly  under- 
stood that  when  nine  months  were  appointed  for  the  occupation 
of  these  provinces  by  the  military  forces  of  Russia,  that  period 
should  not  include  the  time  allowed  for  the  evacuation  of  them, 
which  was  to  commence  at  the  termination  of  that  period  of 
nine  months.  Occupation  and  evacuation  are  different  things, 
and  if  the  evacuation  were  to  be  commenced  within  the  nine 


206  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

months  the  period  of  the  occupation  would  be  proportionately 
shortened. 

But,  holding  as  I  do  that  view  of  the  subject,  that  is  no 
reason  why  we  should  agree  to  an  unreasonable  length  of  time 
being  taken  in  conducting  the  evacuation  of  those  provinces. 
The  noble  duke  treated  as  a  matter  of  course,  and  as  a  subject 
upon  which  there  could  be  no  possible  difference  of  opinion, 
that  Her  Majesty's  Government  had  agreed  to  extend  the  time 
for  the  evacuation  in  those  provinces  to  August  3.  There  is 
not  the  slightest  authority  for  any  statement  of  the  kind. 
What  we  are  bound  by  is  the  view  now  taken  by  the  majority 
of  the  signatories  of  the  Berlin  treaty,  to  the  effect  that  the 
evacuation  was  to  commence  on  May  3 ;  and  it  is  to  be  com- 
pleted within  a  reasonable  time,  which  may  be  computed  in 
weeks  rather  than  in  months,  but  at  all  events  in  a  moderate  time, 
as  compared  with  the  statement  which  the  noble  duke  has 
made.  Therefore  the  noble  duke,  who  prides  himself  upon  his 
memory,  has  actually  complimented  Her  Majesty's  Government 
upon  the  circumstances  which,  if  correct,  would  have  been  a 
disgrace  to  them. 

The  noble  duke  then  goes  on  to  complain  very  much  of  the 
manner  in  which  he  and  his  colleagues  and  friends  have  been 
treated  not  in,  but  out  of  this  House,  and  in  so  doing  he  ex- 
hibited that  sensitiveness  which  I  have  already  more  than  once 
observed  is  peculiar  to  the  present  Opposition.     On  this  point 
I  did  not  think  that  the  evidence  of  the  noble  duke  was  adequate 
to  the  occasion.     He   quoted  an  extract  from  a  speech  of 
noble  friend,  and  he  also  quoted  from  the  anonymous  com 
spondence  of  an  unknown  society.     When  a  subject  of  this 
character  is  brought  before  your  lordships  on  a  solemn  occasioi 
and  when  charges  of  this  nature  are  made  against  Her  Majesty's 
Government,  I  do  not  myself  much  care  what  people  say  about 
me,  and  I  have  not  much  time  to  make  remarks  about  others 
Some  distinguished  members  of  Her  Majesty's  Opposition,  how- 
ever, who  have  appeared  in  different  parts  of  the  country,  seem  t( 
have  spared  no  time  in  the  preparation  of  their  attacks  upoi 
Her   Majesty's  Government.      Upon  that  subject   I  will  s 
nothing  further  than  this :  I  make  no  charge  against  either 


MINISTERIAL  POLICY  IN   GENERAL,   MAY   1879.  207 

the  two  noble  lords  the  leaders  of  the  Opposition  in  either 
House  of  Parliament.  Their  conduct  has  at  all  times,  and 
especially  at  critical  periods,  been  such  as  was  to  be  expected 
from  gentlemen  and  distinguished  statesmen  who  felt  the 
responsibilities  of  their  position. 

That,  however,  cannot  be  said  of  all  the  members  of  the 
party.  Although  I  shall  notice  nothing  of  a  merely  personal 
nature,  I  must  say  that  it  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  after  so 
solemn  an  act  as  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  was  executed,  and  when 
united  Europe  had  agreed  to  look  upon  the  treaty  as  some 
assurance  for  the  maintenance  of  peace  and  for  the  general  wel- 
fare of  the  world,  certain  members  of  the  Opposition  should, 
not  once,  twice,  nor  thrice,  but  month  after  month,  habitually 
declare  to  the  world  that  the  treaty  was  utterly  impracticable, 
and  have  used  such  external  influence  as  they  might  possess  to 
throw  every  obstacle  and  impediment  in  the  way  of  carrying 
that  treaty  into  practical  effect.  Look  at  the  probable  result 
of  such  action.  If  statesmen  have  pledged  their  opinion  over 
and  over  again  that  a  treaty  is  impracticable,  if  they  become 
responsible  ministers,  they  will  be  called  upon  by  those  who  do 
not  wish  the  treaty  to  be  fulfilled  to  carry  their  opinions  into 
effect. 

Then  says  the  noble  duke,  '  I  come  now  to  business. 
You  have  negotiated  a  treaty,  but  what  have  you  done  for 
Turkey?'  And  the  noble  duke  for  a  considerable  time — for 
more  than  half  an  hour — made  an  impassioned  appeal  to  the 
House,  with  a  view  of  showing  us  what  ought  to  have  been 
done  for  Turkey.  From  a  minister  responsible,  I  believe,  for 
the  Crimean  War,  such  a  speech  might  have  been  expected, 
and,  in  fact,  the  strongest  part  of  the  oration  of  the  noble 
duke  was  an  impassioned  argument  in  favour  of  going  to  war 
with  Russia  in  order  to  preserve  the  settlement  made  at  the 
end  of  the  Crimean  War.  *  Well,'  says  the  noble  duke,  '  what 
have  you  done  ?  See  the  losses  to  Turkey  which  you  have 
brought  about.  There  is  Batoum,  a  most  valuable  harbour, 
which  will  be  fortified  by  the  Russians  whatever  ma  •  be  the 
engagement  they  have  made  by  the  Treaty  of  Berlin,  \Doyou 
mean  to  say,  if  you  had  acted  with  sufficient  vigour,  that  you 


208  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL  OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

could  not  have  prevented  Kussia  taking  Batoum,  with  your 
great  fleet  in  the  Black  Sea  ?  '  Well,  no  doubt  we  could  have 
prevented  Russia  taking  Batoum,  as  we  prevented  Russia  taking 
Constantinople.  But  is  the  noble  duke  prepared,  or  was  he 
prepared,  to  go  to  war  to  prevent  Russia  taking  Batoum  —  a 
port  which  with  derision  the  noble  duke  describes  as  one  which 
Russia  has  made  a  free  port.  But  the  noble  duke  quite  forgot 
to  say  that  it  was  not  only  made  by  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  a  free 
port,  but  a  port  essentially  commercial — words  which  have 
some  meaning  and  by  which  the  signatories  of  the  Treaty  of 
Berlin  will  always  be  bound.  The  noble  lord  says  also,  '  I  can 
see  what  will  happen  in  Batoum.  It  will  be  a  free  port,  but  a 
fortified  one.  It  will  be  a  strong  place  and  will  control  the 
commerce  of  Persia.'  But  all  this  was  said  of  the  treaties  of 
1828  with  regard  to  the  harbour  of  Poti.  The  very  same  ex- 
pression was  used  and  England  was  warned  that  by  obtaining 
the  harbour  of  Poti  Russia  had  obtained  such  a  commanding 
position  that  the  Black  Sea  would  be  entirely  at  her  mercy. 
The  noble  duke  quite  forgot  to  tell  us  this,  that  under  the 
Treaty  of  Berlin  the  finest  port  in  the  Black  Sea,  the  port  of 
Burgas,  was  restored  to  the  Sultan.  This  the  noble  duke,  who 
is  so  candid,  omitted  to  bring  to  your  lordships'  recollection. 

'  Well,'  then  says  the  noble  duke,  <  how  can  you  reconcile 
yourselves  to  the  fact  that  you  have  agreed  to  the  destruction  of 
the  Danubian  fortresses — that  quadrilateral  of  the  East  which 
would  have  commanded  the  Danube  ? '  One  would  suppose, 
from  the  way  in  which  the  noble  duke  has  spoken  to-night, 
that  there  had  never  been  any  war  between  Russia  and  Turkey. 
One  would  suppose  that  Turkey  had  never  been  utterly  van- 
quished, and  that  the  army  of  Russia  had  never  been  at  the 
gates  of  Constantinople.  Surely  the  claims  of  Russia,  whether 
right  or  wrong,  had  to  be  considered.  However  we  might 
approve  or  disapprove  the  casus  belli  and  the  policy  of  the  war 
— whatever  differences  of  opinion  there  might  be  upon  these 
and  similar  points — no  one  could  deny  for  a  moment  that 
Russia  had  completely  vanquished  Turkey ;  and  to  suppose  in 
these  circumstances  that  everything  was  to  be  left  exactly  in 
the  same  position  as  at  the  beginning  of  the  war  is  an  assump- 


MINISTEKIAL  POLICY   IN   GENEKAL,   MAY   1879.  209 

tion  which  I  think  your  lordships  will  agree  is  not  a  very 
reasonable  one.  But  look  at  the  merits  of  the  case.  These 
fortresses,  under  the  new  system,  would  have  become  Bul- 
garian fortresses,  our  policy  being  to  maintain  the  Turkish 
Empire — a  policy,  allow  me  in  passing  to  remind  your  lord- 
ships, which  is  universal  in  Europe,  because  every  one  of  the 
Great  Powers  who  have  signed  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  agreed  in 
this  one  point,  that  there  was  no  substitute  for  the  Turkish 
power,  and  that  that  power,  though  it  might  be  reduced,  should 
still  be  substantially  maintained.  *  But,'  says  the  noble  duke, 
4  the  proposal  to  destroy  these  fortresses  was  made  by  the 
Kussians  themselves.'  It  matters  little,  but  I  believe  the  noble 
duke  is  inaccurate  in  that  respect.  The  proposal  to  destroy 
the  fortresses  of  the  Quadrilateral  was  not  a  new  one.  It  had 
been  made  on  previous  occasions,  and  it  was  always  put  forward 
by  Kussia  in  order  to  show  that  the  Eussians  themselves  did 
not  wish  to  obtain  these  powerful  strongholds. 

Then  says  the  noble  duke, — '  You  have  by  the  Treaty  of 
Berlin,  which  is  but  a  revised  edition  of  the  treaty  of  Sah 
Stefano,  established  Servia  as  an  independent  State  and  in- 
creased its  territory  ! '  But  the  situation  of  Servia  before  the 
war  with  reference  to  its  connection  with  the  Porte  was  one  of 
virtual  independence.  The  Porte  certainly  was  the  suzerain 
and  possessed  a  claim  to  a  very  small  tribute,  but  it  was  in 
reality  a  nominal  one,  for  it  was  never  paid.  To  pretend  that 
the  public  acknowledgment  of  the  independence  of  Servia 
was  a  great  blow  to  the  Turkish  power  which  it  was  our  policy 
to  maintain  is  really  trifling  with  so  serious  a  subject  as  that 
which  is  now  before  your  lordships.  Fourthly,  the  noble  duke 
says  that  we  have  deluded  the  people,  who  are,  according  to 
him,  so  easily  deceived  by  the  arrangement  made  concerning 
Roumelia.  The  Sultan,  according  to  the  noble  duke,  has  no 
more  to  do  with  Eoumelia  than  he  has  with  Roumania  itself. 
But  the  noble  duke  forgets  the  fact  that  by  the  Treaty  of 
Berlin  the  political  and  military  authority  of  the  Sultan  is  not 
only  asserted,  but  secured. 

It  is  not  simply  that  he  has  the  right  of  occupying  the 
.  Balkan  chain ;  nor  is  it  simply  that  he  has  the  power  of  occupy- 

VOL.  II.  P 


210     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ing  Burgas,  the  most  important  port  in  the  Black  Sea.  Although 
we  have  secured  autonomy  for  Roumelia,  and  although  the 
Sultan  has  not  yet  the  blessing  of  the  scheme  of  local  govern- 
ment, which  I  trust  will  soon  be  tried,  and  which  apparently,  so 
far  as  I  can  judge,  is  admirably  adapted  to  the  circumstances  of 
the  case,  his  political  authority  is  still  asserted.  The  noble  duke 
forgets  the  conditions  in  accordance  with  which  all  the  officers 
of  the  militia  and  gendarmerie  must  be  appointed  by  the  Sultan. 
Well,  these  are  the  different  points  by  which  the  noble  duke  has 
endeavoured  to  show  that  as  regards  the  settlement  of  Berlin 
the  interests  of  Turkey  and  of  the  Sultan  have  been  neglected 
and  injured  by  Her  Majesty's  Government.  My  lords,  when  the 
noble  duke  first  gave  notice  his  intention  was  to  call  the  atten- 
tion of  the  House  to  the  results  of  the  foreign  policy  of  Her 
Majesty's  Government  in  Europe  and  Asia.  Well,  yesterday 
we  heard  from  the  noble  duke  that  he  would  not  trench  upon 
the  future.  But  how  you  are  to  judge  of  a  policy  if  you  are 
not  to  treat  of  the  future  which  will  be  the  result  of  that  policy, 
I  really  find  some  difficulty  in  ascertaining. 

Let  us  take  a  larger  and  more  candid  view  than  the  noble 
duke  has  taken  of  those  important  matters  of  four  years'  dura- 
tion in  the  East.  What  led  to  this  Treaty  of  Berlin  ?  It  was 
four  years  ago,  the  noble  duke  reminds  us,  when  certain  desires 
first  arose  among  the  border  populations  of  Turkey  in  Europe. 
After  two  months  of  disaster,  during  which  there  were  com- 
munications between  the  Powers,  there  came  the  famous  instru- 
ment called  the  Andrassy  Note.  That  was  in  December  1875, 
and  was  the  commencement  of  those  diplomatic  campaigns  and 
wars.  I  am  sure  your  lordships  do  not  wish  to  hear  much  about 
the  Andrassy  Note,  but  I  believe  the  noble  duke  has  completely 
misapprehended  the  whole  situation — the  conduct  of  Her 
Majesty's  Government  and  the  principles  on  which  their  policy 
was  established.  The  Andrassy  Note  was  the  very  elaborate 
proposition  of  a  mode  of  ameliorating  the  subject  populations 
in  European  Turkey.  Well,  the  first  feeling  of  Her  Majesty's 
Government  was  not  to  accept  that  note.  They  remembered 
their  engagements  under  the  Treaty  of  Paris,  and  they  knew  the 
danger  which  might  occur  from  again  disturbing  the  settlement 


MINISTERIAL  POLICY  IN   GENERAL,   MAY   1879.  211 

then  made.  But,  my  lords,  when  we  investigated  that  docu- 
ment we  found  really  that  the  Porte  was  not  called  upon  to 
make  any  concession  or  to  enter  into  any  engagement  which 
they  had  not  by  previous  irades  themselves  undertaken  to  con- 
cede and  to  act  upon.  Well,  it  is  possible  that  our  fear  of  con- 
tributing to  the  disturbances  in  Europe  might  have  prevented 
our  even  then  acceding  to  that  note.  But  I  remember  it  was 
at  the  solicitation  of  the  Porte  itself,  when  it  heard  that  there 
was  a  possibility  of  England  holding  out,  that  we  ultimately 
acceded. 

I  believe,  my  lords,  that  after  the  Andrassy  Note  there 
was  a  bonafide  attempt  on  the  part  of  the  Porte  to  meet  the 
difficulties  of  the  case.  But  consider  what  were  the  conditions 
of  affairs  at  that  moment.  Those  disturbances  were  in  the 
border  provinces  of  the  Turkish  dominions.  The  central  power 
was  wonderfully  relaxed.  The  provincial  administration  was 
incompetent  and  corrupt.  The  chiefs  in  the  mountain  districts 
were  always  at  civil  war  and  plundering  their  neighbours  who 
did  not  resist  them,  and  in  this  state  of  affairs  it  was  that  we 
thought  some  decided  action  should  be  taken,  and  after  a  few 
months  a  proposition  was  made  in  the  form  of  the  famous 
Berlin  memorandum,  which,  if  we  had  agreed  to,  we  should  then 
have  joined  the  other  Powers  in,  in  fact,  making  war  upon 
Turkey.  We  refused  to  do  that,  and  Parliament  and  the 
country  entirely  sanctioned  the  policy  we  then  pursued  in 
declining  to  accept  the  Berlin  memorandum.  My  lords,  almost 
simultaneously  with  the  introduction  of  the  Berlin  memorandum 
there  occurred  the  assassination  of  the  European  consuls  at 
Salonica.  Soon  afterwards  there  was  a  revolution  in  Constanti- 
nople, the  deposition  of  the  Sovereign  by  force,  and  other  cir- 
cumstances of  the  most  painful  nature,  which  I  need  not  recall 
to  the  recollection  of  your  lordships.  Well,  after  this  came  the 
Bulgarian  insurrection,  and  after  that  the  Servian  declaration 
of  war  against  Turkey,  which  ended  in  the  complete  defeat  of 
Servia  by  Turkey. 

Then  what  did  Her  Majesty's  Government  do  ?  It  was  at 
that  time,  when  Russia,  having  interfered  in  consequence  of 
the  prostrate  state  of  Servia,  with  her  ultimatum,  and  by  her 

p  2 


212  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD . 

menace  forced  Turkey  to  make  peace,  or  grant  an  armistice 
equivalent  to  peace  with  Servia — it  was  then  that  Her  Majesty's 
Government  came  forward  with  a  proposition  which  became 
celebrated,  and  that  was  to  establish  autonomy  in  those  pro- 
vinces which  had  been  so  long  the  scene  and  theatre  of  this 
reckless  misgovernment.  And  then  the  noble  duke  says  that 
our  conduct  has  been  such  that  we  have  necessarily  lost  the 
affections  and  confidence  of  the  then  subject  races  of  Turkey. 
My  lords,  it  was  my  noble  friend  on  the  cross  benches l  who  had 
the  honour  of  making  these  distinct  propositions  with  regard  to 
Bosnia  and  Herzegovina  which  were  ultimately  to  be  applied  to 
Bulgaria.  And  let  me  remind  the  noble  duke,  who  speaks  of  us 
as  on  all  occasions  neglecting  the  interests  and  not  sympathising 
with  the  fortunes  of  the  Christian  races,  that  we  were  the  first 
Government  that  laid  down  the  principle  that  the  chief  remedy 
for  this  miserable  state  of  affairs  was  the  introduction  of  a 
large  system  of  self-government,  and  above  all  of  the  principle 
of  civil  and  religious  liberty. 

My  lords,  I  am  obliged,  on  an  occasion  like  the  present,  to 
very  much  curtail  remarks  which  I  would  wish  to  place  before 
you,  but  it  is  necessary  after  the  speech  of  the  noble  duke  that 
I  should  remove  impressions  which  are  absolutely  unfounded 
— that  I  should  recall  to  your  recollection  what  are  the  princi- 
ples on  which  the  policy  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  is 
founded,  and  show  your  lordships  that  the  noble  duke  has 
entirely  mistaken  that  policy.  I  must  point  out  that  the  noble 
duke  has  imputed  to  us  motives  which  we  never  acknowledged, 
and  conduct  and  feelings  toward  others  which  we  never  shared. 
Now,  has  there  been  any  inconsistency  in  our  policy  ?  When 
war  between  Russia  and  Turkey  was  so  imminent  that  it  was  a 
question  of  hours,  my  noble  friend  upon  the  cross  benches  pro- 
posed that  there  should  be  a  Conference  at  Constantinople,  at. 
which  my  noble  friend  near  me  should  be  our  plenipotentiary. 
Has  the  noble  duke,  who  studies  these  matters,  who  not  only 
makes  long  speeches,  but  writes  long  books  about  them — has 
the  noble  duke  ever  heard,  or  has  he  forgotten  the  instructions 
given  to  my  noble  friend  near  me  by  my  noble  friend  on  the 

1  Lord  Derby. 


MINISTERIAL  POLICY  IN   GENERAL,   MAY   1879,  213 

cross  benches — instructions  as  to  the  course  he  was  to  pursue 
at  the  Conference  at  Constantinople  ? 

I  cannot,  my  lords,  venture  to  refer  to  those  instructions 
which  lie  before  me,  at  any  length ;  but  I  may  remind  you  of 
some  of  their  salient  points.  In  one  paragraph  my  noble  friend 
was  instructed  that  it  became  requisite  in  the  then  crises  to  take 
steps  by  an  agreement  between  the  Powers  for  the  establishment 
of  reform  in  the  Turkish  provinces  which  would  combine  the 
elective  principle  with  external  guarantees  for  efficient  adminis- 
tration. Then  the  means  are  indicated  by  which  that  state  of 
things  might  be  brought  about.  Well,  my  lords,  that  is  but  a 
specimen  to  show  the  purport  of  those  instructions,  which  com- 
pletely mastered  the  application  of  the  principle  of  autonomy ; 
and  no  Government  in  Europe  at  this  Conference  was  so  ready, 
so  prepared,  or  so  practical  in  its  propositions  by  which  the  wel- 
fare of  the  subject  races  and  a  general  reform  of  the  administra- 
tion of  Turkey  could  be  affected  as  was  the  Government  of 
England,  so  represented  at  the  Conference  by  my  noble  friend. 
And  yet  the  noble  duke  comes  down  here  and  makes  an  inflam- 
matory harangue,  and  speaks  of  the  deplorable  consequences 
which  he  fears  will  arise — that  we  have  lost  for  ever  the  con- 
fidence and  affection  of  the  subject  races  of  Turkey  by  our  utter 
disregard  of  their  feelings  and  neglect  of  their  interests.  Why, 
my  lords,  if  I  were  to  read  to  you  this  minute  of  my  noble  friend 
near  me  of  the  proposition  which  he  himself  made  as  regards 
Montenegro,  Servia,  the  two  principalities  Bosnia  and  Herze- 
govina, and  Bulgaria,  and  the  reforms  that  might  be  established 
in  all  the  provinces  of  Turkey,  you  would  see  that  at  the  Con- 
ference of  Constantinople  he  endeavoured  to  have  carried  into 
effect  as  much  as  he  possibly  could  the  policy  of  autonomy 
which  had  been  laid  down  in  the  instructions  prepared  by  my 
noble  friend  on  the  cross  benches. 

Well,  my  lords,  you  know  very  well  what  occurred.  We 
failed — not  England  only — but  Europe  failed  in  preventing  war. 
Our  objects  were  twofold.  We  wished  to  maintain  Turkey  as 
an  independent  political  State.  It  is  very  easy  to  talk  of  the 
Ottoman  power  being  at  the  point  of  extinction.  But  when  you 
come  practically  to  examine  the  question  there  is  no  living 


214  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

statesman  who  has  ever  offered  or  propounded  any  practical 
solution  of  the  difficulties  which  would  occur  if  the  Ottoman 
Empire  were  to  fall  to  pieces.  One  result  would  probably  be  a 
long  and  general  war,  and  that  alone,  I  think,  is  a  sufficient 
reason  for  endeavouring  to  maintain  as  a  State  the  Ottoman 
Empire.  But,  while  holding  as  a  principle  that  the  Ottoman 
Empire  must  be  maintained  as  a  State,  we  have  always  been  of 
opinion  that  the  only  way  to  strengthen  it  was  to  improve  the 
condition  of  its  subjects.  My  lords,  I  do  not  say  this  out  of 
vague  philanthropy,  or  any  of  that  wild  sentimentalism  which  is 
vomited  in  the  society  which  is  sometimes  called  political.  No, 
my  lords,  it  was  our  conviction  that  that  was  the  only  means  by 
which  the  maintenance  of  the  Ottoman  Empire  could  be 
secured  ;  and  we  have  acted  accordingly. 

Until  the  war  commenced  we  consistently  endeavoured — 
first,  to  prevent  war,  and,  secondly,  to  ameliorate  the  condition 
of  the  subject  races  of  the  Porte ;  and  when  the  war  took  place 
we  determined  that  when  peace  was  negotiated  it  should  not  be 
negotiated  with  out  the  knowledge  and  sanction  of  Great  Britain. 
We  are  told,  my  lords,  that  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  did  nothing  for 
the  Sultan.  Looking  to  the  first  object  of  our  policy,  which  was 
the  maintenance  of  the  Sultan,  let  me  show  what  our  signature 
to  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  produced  as  regards  the  political  position. 
Bulgaria  was  confined  to  the  north  of  the  Balkans  instead  of  the 
arrangement  that  was  made  under  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano ; 
Thrace,  Macedonia,  and  the  littoral  of  the  ^Egean  were  restored 
to  the  Sultan ;  the  Slav  principalities  of  Servia  and  Montenegro 
were  restricted  within  reasonable  limits  ;  the  disturbed  districts 
of  Bosnia  and  Herzegovina  were  placed  under  the  administra- 
tion of  Austria,  which  was  thus  offered  as  a  barrier  to  Slav 
aggression  ;  and  Eastern  Eoumelia  was  created  with  an  organic 
statute  which,  if  wisely  accepted  by  the  people  of  that  province, 
would  make  them  one  of  the  most  prosperous  communities  in 
the  world.  The  noble  duke  tells  us  that  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  is 
a  political  imposture,  and  that  we  are  found  out.  Let  me  plact 
before  your  lordships  very  briefly  what  was  the  state  of  affairs 
effected  by  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano,1  and  what  was  the  state 
1  Vide  preceding  speech  on  Treaty  of  Berlin. 


MINISTERIAL  POLICY  IN   GENERAL,  3L1Y   1879.  215 

of  affairs  effected  by  the  Treaty  of  Berlin,  remembering  that  the 
noble  duke  dinned  into  our  ears  that  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  was 
only  a  copy  of  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano. 

At  the  time  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  was  signed,  or  immedi- 
ately before  it  was  signed,  the  Russian  armies  were  at  the  gates 
of  Constantinople.  They  occupied  the  greater  part  of  the  east 
and  north  of  European  Turkey.  A  vast  Slav  State  was  to 
stretch  from  the  Danube  to  the  ^Egean  shores,  extending 
inwards  from  Salonica  to  the  mountains  of  Albania — a  State 
which  when  formed  would  have  crushed  the  Greek  population, 
exterminated  the  Mussulmans,  and  exercised  over  the  celebrated 
straits  that  have  so  long  been  the  scene  of  political  interest  the 
baneful  and  irresistible  influence  of  the  Slavs.  That  was  the 
state  of  affairs  when  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano  was  signed,  and 
the  British  Government,  with  great  difficulty  but  with  equal 
determination,  succeeded  in  having  that  treaty  submitted  to 
the  consideration  of  the  Congress — the  Congress  of  Berlin.  And 
what  were  the  results  of  that  Congress  ?  I  have  placed  before 
your  lordships  the  main  features  of  the  settlement  of  San 
Stefano.  Let  me  now  place  before  your  lordships  what  were 
the  results  of  the  Treaty  of  Berlin.  In  the  first  place  the 
Russian  armies  quitted  their  menacing  positions  at  the  gates 
of  Constantinople.  That  city,  notwithstanding  many  promises, 
was  not  entered.  The  Russian  armies  gradually  retired,  and  at 
last  quitted  Adrianople  and  all  that  district,  and  they  are  now 
evacuating  Bulgaria  and  Roumelia  in  consequence  of  the  Treaty 
of  Berlin.  Bulgaria  itself  by  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  becomes  a 
vassal  and  tributary  province  of  the  Porte.  Eastern  Roumelia 
becomes  a  province  governed  by  an  organic  statute  which 
secures  local  representation,  provincial  administration,  civil  and 
religious  liberty,  and  many  other  conditions  and  arrangements 
which  it  would  be  wearisome  now  to  enter  into,  but  which  some 
day  and  shortly  I  am  sure  your  lordships  will  read  with  interest. 

The  condition  of  Crete  was  one  of  the  most  unsatisfactory, 
but  it  was  met  by  an  organic  statute  which  has  the  sympathy  of 
the  whole  population.  Montenegro  by  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  got 
that  accession  of  territory  which  really  was  necessary  to  its  exist- 
ence, and  that  access  to  the  sea  which  was  necessary  to  its  pros- 


216  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

perity.  Servia  obtained  independence  by  fulfilling  the  conditions 
of  the  Congress  of  Berlin,  that  the  independence  of  no  new  State 
should  be  acknowledged  which  did  not  secure  principles  of 
religious  liberty  in  its  constitution  ;  and  Roumania  also  would 
have  been  equally  acknowledged  had  not  difficulties  arisen  on 
that  subject,  which,  however,  will  be  overcome,  I  have  reason  to 
believe,  and  which  certainly  England,  and  no  doubt  the  other 
signatories  of  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  will  endeavour  to  overcome. 
Well,  my  lords,  I  think,  after  that,  it  cannot  be  said  that  the 
Treaty  of  Berlin  is  a  mere  copy  of  the  treaty  of  San  Stefano.  I 
think,  after  that,  it  cannot  be  said  that  it  is  not  one  of  those 
great  instruments  which  in  all  probability  will  influence  the  life 
of  Europe,  and  possibly  have  an  even  more  extended  influence 
for  a  considerable  time.  I  look  upon  it  as  an  instrument  which 
has  in  it  that  principle  of  evolution  which  we  hear  of  in  other 
matters  equally  interesting.  I  believe  it  will  not  only  effect  the 
reforms  which  it  has  immediately  in  view,  but  that  it  will  ulti- 
mately tend  to  the  general  welfare  of  mankind. 

The  noble  duke  laughs  at  the  idea  of  our  effecting  any 
beneficial  change  in  Asia  Minor.  Well,  my  lords,  there  is 
nothing  difficult  or  great  that  is  not  laughed  at  in  the  begin- 
ning. The  noble  duke  is  not  the  man  whom  I  should  have 
thought  would  have  discredited  the  attempt  that  is  making. 
But  nothing  has  been  done  in  this  way,  says  the  noble  duke. 
Well,  in  the  first  place,  if  the  noble  duke  supposes  that  the 
regeneration  of  Asia  Minor  is  to  be  like  the  occupation  of 
Bulgaria,  an  affair  of  nine  weeks,  he  entertains  views  of  Oriental 
life  and  character  which  I  venture  to  deny.  But  are  there  no 
symptoms  of  change,  and  change  for  the  better,  even  in  Asia 
Minor?  I  think  the  fact  that  an  eminent  statesman  like 
Midhat  Pasha  has  been  recalled  from  exile  and  appointed 
governor  of  Syria — the  first  governor  appointed  for  a  term 
of  years  which  cannot  be  capriciously  reduced — is  one  on 
which  we  may  congratulate  ourselves,  and  I  have  reason  to 
believe  that  the  influence  of  that  statesman  on  his  govern- 
ment is  great.  We  must  also  remember  that  under  the  Treaty 
of  Berlin  there  are  a  variety  of  commissioners  of  demarcation 


MINISTERIAL  POLICY  IN   GENEKAL,   MAY   1879.  217 

settling  the  boundaries  of  different  States,  and  so  carrying  out 
a  work  of  inestimable  value.  The  noble  duke  has  made  a  war- 
like speech.  He  has  told  Turkey  that  she  has  in  us  an  ally  on 
whom  she  cannot  depend.  He  has  told  Kussia  that  she  has 
only  to  pursue  her  policy  of  aggression,  and  that  it  will  be 
accepted  by  the  English  Government.  And,  as  far  as  I  can 
understand  him,  the  noble  duke  does  not  treat  with  any  disap- 
probation the  policy  of  Russia  in  that  respect. 

Now,  I  wish  to  speak  in  another  tone,  but  a  sincere  one,  in 
regard  to  Russia.  I  think  I  can,  as  an  English  minister,  appeal 
with  pride  on  behalf  of  my  colleagues  and  myself  to  the  fact  that 
those  great  results  in  regard  to  the  policy  which  we  recom- 
mended were,  perhaps,  not  uninfluenced  by  the  presence  of  a 
magnificent  British  fleet,  and  by  the  firm  tone  in  which  Her 
Majesty's  Government  communicated  with  St.  Petersburg. 
Notwithstanding,  I  willingly  acknowledge  there  has  been  on  the 
part  of  Russia  a  spirit  of  wise  forbearance,  and  I  believe  that 
she  is  sincerely  anxious  to  bring  about  in  that  part  of  the  world 
which  has  been  the  scene  of  all  these  disasters  and  distressing 
circumstances  a  state  of  affairs  which,  not  only  for  her  own 
sake,  but  for  the  sake  of  all,  we  should  assist  her  in  bringing 
about.  My  lords,  I  have  trespassed  on  your  attention,  but 
the  noble  duke  made  so  serious  and  so  elaborate  a  charge 
upon  the  Government  that  it  was  impossible  for  me  to  be 
silent.  I  have  not  said  many  things  I  ought  to  have  said, 
and  I  may  have  said  some  things  which  I  ought  not  to  have 
said ;  but  this  I  know.  The  noble  duke  says  we  are  a  most 
powerful  Government,  but,  says  he,  '  If  you  are  a  most  power- 
ful Government,  it  is  only  because  you  are  powerful  in  Parlia- 
ment.' Well,  that  is  a  state  of  affairs  which  it  is  very  easy  to 
parallel  in  the  history  of  this  country.  I  know  that  in  Oppo- 
sition men  do  indulge  in  dreams.  I  have  had  experience  of 
Opposition,  and  I  hope  it  has  left  me,  it  may  be  a  wiser  even 
if  a  sadder  man.  I  know  that  there  are  mirages  that  rise  up 
before  the  political  eye  which  are  extremely  delightful  and 
equally  deceptive ;  and  I  say,  knowing  of  what  materials  the 
Parliament  of  England  is  formed,  knowing  whom  I  address  now, 


218 


SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


and  knowing  who  sit  in  the  other  House,  where  I  was  one  of 
their  companions,  I  cannot  but  believe  that  the  large  majorities 
which  the  noble  duke  has  dwelt  upon  have  been  accorded  to 
the  present  Government  because  it  was  believed  they  were 
a  Government  resolved  to  maintain  the  fame  and  strength  of 
England. 


219 


SPEECH  ON  ADDRESS.     January  7,  1881. 

[Lord  Beaconsfield  here  reviews  the  policy  of  the  new  Government 
in  endeavouring  to  undo  whatever  their  predecessors  had  accomplished 
both  in  Eastern  Europe,  in  India,  and  in  Ireland.  The  charge  was 
denied  by  Lord  Granville,  who  declared  that  at  the  Foreign  Office  the 
policy  of  the  late  Government  was  being  steadily  carried  out.] 

THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD,  who  was  cheered  on 
rising,  said, — My  lords,  I  wish  I  could  feel  it  my  duty 
to  treat  the  matters  before  us  to-night  in  as  pleasant  a  manner 
as  the  two  noble  lords  who  have  just  addressed  us  have  done. 
I  agree  with  my  noble  friend  and  neighbour  who  moved  the 
address  that  the  times  are  critical,  and,  although  I  am  sure 
that  your  lordships  are  not  pessimists,  and  although,  whatever 
my  errors  are,  pessimism  is  not  generally  among  the  imputations 
made  against  me,  I  confess  I  have  never  addressed  Parliament 
with  a  more  deep  sense  of  anxiety  and  gloom  than  that  which 
the  present  state  of  affairs  brings  me  to  feel.  There  have  been 
occasions  in  which  our  foreign  affairs  have  filled  us  with  anxiety, 
occasions  on  which  our  colonial  position  has  been  very  critical. 
There  have  been  occasions  before  this  on  which  our  domestic 
interests,  influenced  by  Ireland,  filled  the  nation  with  alarm. 
There  have  been  occasions  also  in  which  events  have  occurred 
which  have  demanded  the  serious  attention  of  Parliament,  and 
which  cannot,  perhaps,  be  ranged  under  the  heads  I  have 
noticed.  But,  my  lords,  I  do  not  recollect  a  time  in  which, 
not  only  our  foreign  relations,  not  only  our  position  in  important 
colonies,  not  only  the  almost  unparalleled  state  of  our  relations 
with  Ireland,  but  the  many  other  troubles  which  may  require 
your  attention  this  session,  all  at  the  same  time  have  occurred 
and  have  demanded  the  deepest  consideration,  the  deepest 
sense  of  responsibility,  on  the  part  of  your  lordships.  And,  my 


220  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

lords,  I  am  bound  to  say  that  I  cannot  help  feeling  that  much 
of  the  disaster  with  which  we  have  to  grapple  at  present,  is  to 
be  attributed  in  a  great  degree  to  the  spirit  in  which  Her 
Majesty's  present  ministers  acceded  to  office. 

My  lords,  in  old  days,  in  times  within  our  experience,  when 
there  was  a  change  of  administration,  it  was  always  considered 
the  duty  of  both  parties  to  effect  no  more  alteration  in  the 
general  conduct  of  our  affairs  than  was  absolutely  necessary. 
On  former  occasions  it  was  generally  understood  that  though 
there  ought  to  be,  and,  of  course,  there  was,  a  due  assertion  of 
differences  of  party  principle,  still,  so  far  as  it  was  possible, 
unnecessary  changes  were  to  be  discouraged  in  the  general  con- 
duct of  our  affairs,  so  that  there  should  be  some  continuity  of 
policy ;  and  though  there  were  imputations  made,  I  fear  some- 
times with  justice,  but  often  very  unjustly,  against  our  parlia- 
mentary government,  of  the  inconsistency  in  which  it  involved 
our  affairs,  very  frequently  parliamentary  government  could  not 
justly  be  open  to  that  imputation.  "Well,  my  lords,  it  must  be 
admitted  that  this  action  to  which  I  have  referred  introduced 
some  feeling  of  magnanimity  into  public  life,  and  its  absence  is 
very  much  to  be  regretted.  No  doubt  it  added  greatly  to  the 
strength  of  our  functions.  But  when  the  new  administration 
was  formed  nothing  of  the  kind  was  done.  On  the  contrary,  in 
every  manner  and  on  every  occasion  it  was  announced  that  the 
change  of  Government  meant  a  change  in  every  part  and  portion 
of  the  Government ;  that  everything  which  had  been  concluded 
was  to  be  repudiated ;  that  everything  consummated  was  to  be 
reversed,  and  upon  the  most  important  questions,  either  of  our 
foreign  relations,  our  colonial  situation,  or  our  domestic  policy 
with  regard  to  Ireland,  upon  all  these  questions  the  utmost 
change  must  immediately  and  rapidly  be  accomplished.  Per- 
petual and  complete  reversal  of  all  that  had  occurred  was 
the  order  that  was  given  and  the  profession  that  was  an- 
nounced. 

See,  my  lords,  how  this  has  worked.  Take  the  case  which 
the  noble  lord  who  has  just  addressed  you  adduced — take  the 
case  of  our  foreign  relations.  The  system  of  repudiating  every- 
thing that  was  approved,  promoted,  or  carried  into  effect  by 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   JANUARY   1881.  221 

their  predecessors,  this  system  may  be  tried  very  well  upon  the 
very  subject  to  which  the  noble  lord  has  referred.  Everything 
was  to  be  altered.  Well,  though  you  might  denounce  and 
abuse  the  Treaty  of  Berlin,  you  could  not  repudiate  that  treaty, 
and  you  could  not  reverse  it.  The  Treaty  of  Berlin,  being  so 
completely  disapproved  of  by  the  new  Government,  it  was  pro- 
posed, most  ingeniously,  that,  as  there  had  been  a  Congress  at 
Berlin,  there  should  also  be  a  Conference  at  Berlin  ;  and  it  was 
generally  understood  and  felt  by  everyone  that  that  meant  that 
the  regulations  of  the  Congress  of  Berlin  were  in  fact  to  be 
modified,  changed,  and  superseded  by  the  determinations  of 
the  Conference.  Now,  how  has  that  been  accomplished  ?  In 
my  observations  to-night  I  will  avoid  arguing  on  matters  of 
policy,  for  which  there  will  be  other  occasions  ;  but  all  sensible 
men  will  agree  that,  whatever  may  have  been  the  defects  of 
the  Treaty  of  Berlin — though  I  admit  none — or  the  points  that 
may  have  been  neglected  or  left  unsettled,  one  thing  was  quite 
clear  and  was  generally  admitted,  that  at  last  the  peace  of 
Europe  was  secured.  I  believe  that  the  Conference  of  Berlin 
had  the  contrary  effect,  and  I  think  I  am  not  using  an  un- 
authorised expression  when  I  say  that  the  result  of  that  Con- 
ference was,  that  the  war  in  the  East  of  Europe  and  in  the 
West  of  Asia  was  on  the  point  of  being  revived,  and  England 
was  near  being  a  belligerent,  and  a  belligerent,  too,  against  our 
old  ally.  No  one  can  say  now  that  the  peace  of  Europe  is 
certain,  or  that  we  are  perfectly  secure.  We  have  very  little 
information  on  this  subject,  though  I  presume  that  more  will 
be  afforded,  but  from  what  we  see  there  is  no  doubt  that  even 
in  the  space  of  twenty -four  hours  events  may  occur  which 
might  shake  that  peace.  What  is  the  cause  of  all  this  ?  It  is 
because  Her  Majesty's  Government,  directly  they  took  office, 
got  into  this  system  of  superseding  and  disturbing  everything 
their  predecessors  had  settled. 

Now  let  me  advert  to  another  question — that,  namely,  of 
Afghanistan.  That  is  a  question  that  must  come  before  the 
House,  and  I  believe  my  noble  friend  the  late  Governor-General 
of  India  will  take  an  opportunity  of  bringing  it  before  your 
lordships'  notice.  Whatever  may  be  our  opinion  as  to  the 


222  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

policy  or  impolicy  of  the  military  occupation  of  Afghanistan, 
in  this,  I  think,  all  will  agree — that  it  was  an  event  of  great 
political  moment,  and  that  it  was  undertaken  in  consequence 
of  information,  part  of  which  only  has  as  yet  been  revealed  to 
the  country,  but  which  is  adequate  to  enable  them  to  learn 
that  it  was  preceded  by  startling  incidents  of  conduct  on  the 
part  of  another  great  Power,  which  demanded  serious  consider- 
ation. Her  Majesty's  Government  may  be  perfectly  right  in 
the  views  they  take  on  the  subject  of  Afghanistan.  The  occu- 
pation of  that  country  may  have  been  a  most  impolitic  act, 
and  it  may  be  their  duty  to  counteract  its  effect,  and  to  termi- 
nate the  policy  that  we  attempted  to  establish.  All  this  may 
be  perfectly  true,  but  all  impartial  persons  will  feel  that  such  a 
step  should  be  taken  with  great  prudence,  that  it  should  be 
taken  gradually,  and  that  ministers  ought  not  to  have  gone  to 
the  housetops  to  proclaim  their  peril  to  the  world — their  peril; 
I  may  rather  say  their  perplexity.  We  must  remember  also 
that  the  military  feat  of  the  invasion  and  occupation  of  Afghan- 
istan was  no  mean  one.  Karely  have  the  discipline  and  valour 
of  our  troops,  both  British  and  native,  been  more  distinguished, 
and,  above  all,  we  have  produced  a  General  equal  to  any  con- 
juncture of  the  war.  These  were  all  circumstances  that  won 
respect  in  Asia  and  Europe  ;  but  the  ministers,  as  I  say,  go  to 
the  housetops  to  proclaim  to  every  bazaar  in  the  East  that  they 
do  not  know  what  to  do,  and  that,  after  all  this  anxiety,  they 
are  going  to  scuttle  out  of  the  country  as  fast  as  they  can. 

What  I  want  your  lordships  chiefly  to  observe  is  the  conse- 
quence of  such  conduct,  which  is  of  the  most  destructive  and 
deleterious  kind.  It  may  have  been  our  policy  to  quit  Afghan- 
istan, but  if  we  quit  it  in  this  spirit  and  after  such  declarations 
every  military  adventurer  feels,  '  This  is  my  opportunity  :  the 
British  are  going  to  leave  this  country,  and  I  will  succeed  them 
as  far  as  I  can.'  Clearly,  you  have  produced  a  state  of  anarchy, 
and  at  last  you  say  that  you  will  consummate  your  confession 
of  impotence  and  blundering  by  giving  up  the  city  of  Candahar. 
But  why  has  all  this  taken  place  ?  Because  there  have  been 
declarations  made  on  the  subject,  declarations  of  the  most  un- 
measured kind ;  because  the  country  has  been  agitated  to 


SPEECH  ON   ADDEESS,   JANUARY   1881.  223 

believe  that  the  change  of  Government  would  instantly  termi- 
nate the  dangerous  occupation  of  Afghanistan;  and  because 
pledges  made  in  total  ignorance  of  the  circumstances  of  the 
case  have  now  to  be  redeemed  at  the  cost  of  the  credit  of  the 
country.  Both  in  foreign  affairs  and  in  Afghanistan — in  the 
one  because  the  peace  of  Europe  is  no  longer  assured  but 
menaced,  and  in  the  other  because  Central  Asia  is  in  a  state  of 
anarchy — you  have  now  to  pay  the  cost  of  declarations  made 
in  a  polemical  and  not  in  a  political  sense  to  the  people  of  the 
country. 

I  must  now  touch  on  that  subject  which,  after  all,  absorbs 
all  our  thoughts  at  the  present  moment,  and  that  is  the  subject 
of  Ireland.  When  the  late  Government  were  responsible  for 
the  administration  of  affairs,  the  state  of  Ireland  undoubtedly 
caused  much  anxiety.  In  ordinary  circumstances  I  believe  the 
skilful  administration  of  my  noble  friend  near  me  would  in  no 
way  have  been  disturbed ;  but  we  had  a  terrible  visitation,  and 
have  at  the  same  time  to  deal  with  a  body  of  men  who  will 
take  advantage  of  distress  to  render  the  work  of  government 
more  difficult.  Fortunately  the  famine  was  not  as  fatal  as  we 
once  feared,  and  the  measures  taken  by  the  Government  and 
supported  by  private  charity  almost  unprecedented,  which, 
under  the  direction  of  a  noble  lady,  touched  the  hearts  of  the 
Irish  for  the  time,  gave  us  every  hope  that  we  might  proceed 
without  further  disaster.  The  Peace  Preservation  Act  certainly 
had  a  beneficial  effect,  and  greatly  assisted  the  Government ; 
and  our  opinion  was,  although  we  had  before  us  information 
which  is,  no  doubt,  well  known  to  the  present  ministers,  that  it 
would  be  possible  to  carry  affairs  safely  through  with  the  law 
that  then  existed,  and  that,  with  the  mitigation  of  the  cala- 
mity that  then  prevailed,  we  might  grapple  with  the  con- 
spirators, who  seek  not  merely  separation  from  this  country, 
but  the  establishment  of  an  independent  foreign  Power. 

Just  before  the  general  election  I  felt  it  my  duty,  occupying 
the  position  I  then  did,  to  place  before  the  country  issues  which 
I  thought  were  of  vast  importance,  and  which  demanded  at  that 
critical  time  the  consideration  of  the  country.  Not  sitting  in 
the  other  House  of  Parliament,  and  therefore  not  having  the 


224     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

privilege  of  addressing  my  old  constituents,  as  in  old  days,  1 
thought  it  becoming  to  address  to  the  Lord-Lieutenant  of 
Ireland  a  letter,  in  which  I  called  the  attention  of  the  country 
to  the  state  of  Ireland.  I  placed  before  the  country  only  two 
points.  I  warned  it  to  be  most  careful  not  to  meddle  thought- 
lessly with  foreign  affairs,  because  I  foresaw  that  if  it  did,  there 
would  be  a  chance,  and  more  than  a  chance,  of  a  European  war. 
What  has  occurred  has,  I  think,  quite  justified  that  warning; 
but  we  can  at  least  hope  that,  a  war  not  having  occurred,  Her 
Majesty's  ministers  may  have  been  successful  in  preventing  it. 
But  as  regards  Ireland,  in  my  letter  to  the  Lord-Lieutenant— 
on  March  8,  I  think  it  was — I  warned  the  country  that  if  the 
Grovernment  did  not  show  a  becoming  vigilance,  something 
would  happen  which  would  be  almost  as  bad  as  famine  and 
pestilence. 

Now,  what  was  the  consequence  of  that  declaration  ?  The 
present  Grovernment  took  an  early  opportunity,  soon  after  I  had 
made  that  declaration,  to  express  a  contrary  opinion.  They 
said  there  was  in  Ireland  an  absence  of  crime  and  outrage, 
with  a  general  sense  of  comfort  and  satisfaction  such  as  was 
unknown  in  the  previous  history  of  the  country.  Now,  my 
lords,  that  was  the  issue  placed  before  the  country  to  decide. 
I  warned  the  constituencies  that  there  was  going  on  in  Ire- 
land a  conspiracy  which  aimed  at  the  disunion  of  the  two 
countries,  and  probably  something  more.  I  said  that  if  they 
were  not  careful,  something  might  happen  almost  as  bad  as 
pestilence  or  famine.  The  country,  on  the  other  hand,  was 
immediately  told  that  there  was  in  Ireland  a  general  sense  of 
comfort  and  satisfaction  unprecedented  in  the  history  of  that 
country.  Now  there  was  a  complete  issue  to  be  decided,  and 
the  country  decided  that  Ireland  was  in  a  state  of  comfort  and 
satisfaction.  My  observations,  of  course,  were  treated  with 
that  ridicule  which  a  successful  election  always  secures.  What 
has  occurred  in  Ireland  since  then?  What  is  the  state  of 
Ireland  at  this  present  moment  ?  I  do  not  want  to  indulge  in 
exaggerated  phrases,  nor  do  I  wish  to  use  language  that  would 
adequately  express  the  horrors  which  have  occurred  in  that 
country.  I  think,  however,  I  am  not  using  exaggerated  Ian- 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   JANUARY    1881.  225 

guage  when  I  say  that  in  portions  of  Ireland  the  sovereignty 
of  our  Queen  has  been  absolutely  superseded.  •  I  think  I  am 
not  using  exaggerated  language  when  I  say  that  Her  Majesty's 
Executive  in  Ireland  have  absolutely  abdicated  their  functions. 
I  think  I  am  not  using  exaggerated  language  when  I  say  that 
there  have  been  months  of  murder  and  incendiarism  and  of 
every  conceivable  outrage.  I  think  I  am  not  using  exaggerated 
language  when  I  say  that  the  Judges  of  the  land  have  been 
denounced  and  defied,  and  that  the  administration  of  justice 
has  altogether  ceased  ;  and  that  the  law — the  Queen's  law — is 
no  longer  respected  by  the  majority  in  that  country. 

What  has  been  the  occasion  of  this  ?  Why  have  not  steps 
been  taken  in  proper  time  to  prevent  what  everyone  feels 
might  have  been  nipped  in  the  bud  ?  Why,  it  was  because  of 
these  declarations  that  Ireland  was  in  a  state  of  comfort  and 
content,  and  because  the  person  who  made  them,  being  the 
most  responsible  person  in  the  land,  or  about  to  become  so, 
felt  it  necessary  to  act  in  his  political  position  in  harmony  with 
his  polemical  one.  Now,  my  lords,  what  happened  when  the 
change  of  Grovernment  took  place  ?  The  first  thing  that  was 
done  was  a  very  slight  thing.  We  had  established  a  Eoyal 
Commission  to  inquire  into  the  state  of  agriculture,  not  only 
in  England,  but  in  Ireland.  That  Commission  had  reached 
Ireland  and  was  very  busy  in  its  operations.  I  believe  there 
never  before  was  a  Royal  Commission  formed  with  such  anxiety 
on  the  part  of  Grovernment  that  it  should  be  an  able,  an 
adequate,  and  an  impartial  commission.  Every  shadow  of 
opinion  was  represented  and  the  ablest  men  were  invited  to  sit 
upon  it.  I  speak  with  the  greatest  confidence,  on  this  subject, 
as  I  myself  undertook  the  task  of  forming  that  Commission. 
No  sooner  was  the  Grovernment  changed,  however,  than  a  new 
Royal  Commission  was  appointed  to  inquire  into  the  state  of 
agriculture  in  Ireland.  What  was  the  effect  of  that  ?  What- 
ever the  intention  might  have  been,  the  effect  was  to  make  the 
country  understand  that  the  new  Grovernment  could  place  no 
confidence  in  the  Royal  Commission  of  the  late  administration. 

Well,  Her  Majesty's  Government  being  in  office,  the  late 
Lord-Lieutenant  of  Ireland  naturally  thought  the  time  had  come 

VOL.    II.  Q 


226  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF   BEACOXSFIELD. 

when  he  ought  to  give  them  his  opinion  with  regard  to  that 
country.  There  had  been  very  great  anxiety  to  know  what  would 
be  the  course  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  in  regard  to  the 
continuance  of  the  Peace  Preservation  Act.  I  think  there  was 
at  that  time,  if  not  a  formal  declaration,  at  least  a  general 
understanding  that  probably  the  new  Government  would  not 
propose  to  continue  that  Act.  But,  however  that  may  be,  the 
Lord-Lieutenant  impressed  upon  Her  Majesty's  ministers  his 
opinion  that  the  Peace  Preservation  Act  should  certainly  be 
continued.  Noble  lords  will  perfectly  recollect  what  occurred 
on  that  occasion.  It  has  been  said  very  frequently — I  do  not 
mean  in  this  House,  for  that  would  give  it  great  authority — 
but  it  has  been  said  by  what  are  called  organs  of  opinion,  which 
are  in  communication  with  political  personages  of  influence, 
and  which,  therefore,  speak  with  authority,  that  it  was  never 
the  intention  of  the  late  Government  to  continue  the  Peace 
Preservation  Act.  That  is  not  true.  It  is  fortunate  that  I  can 
prove  this  in  a  manner  which  will  be  satisfactory  to  your  lordships 
and  to  the  country,  for  a  noble  lord  asked  me  a  question  on  the 
subject  before  the  dissolution  of  Parliament.  In  my  reply  to 
him,  after  deprecating  the  assumption  of  the  noble  lord  that,  as 
a  matter  of  course,  I  should  be  Prime  Minister  in  the  new 
Parliament,  of  which  I  had  very  great  doubt,  I  used  these 
words  : — '  But  it  is  by  no  means  imprudent  to  assume  that  the 
new  Parliament  will  do  its  duty  to  the  country,  and  that  it  will 
repeat  that  Act,  or,  if  necessary,  support  it  with  stronger 
measures  if  they  are  required  in  the  circumstances  of  the  times.' 
My  letter  to  the  Lord-Lieutenant  involved  the  continuance  of 
the  Peace  Preservation  Act.  It  remains  as  a  positive  fact  that 
the  late  Government  were  pledged  to  it.  In  regard  to  what 
happened  out  of  this  House,  there  can  be  no  question.  We 
had  our  own  Bill  drawn,  and  I  am  permitted  to  say  that  the 
late  Chief  Secretary  for  Ireland,  who  unfortunately  is  no  longer 
a  member  of  Parliament,  offered  that  Bill  very  courteously  to 
his  successor.  His  successor  declined  that  offer,  but  he  neces- 
sarily had  the  advantage  of  the  official  information  upon  which 
the  late  cabinet  had  determined  to  continue  the  Peace  Pre- 
servation Act.  That  information  consisted  of  confidential 


SPEECH  ON  ADDRESS,   JANUARY   1881.  227 

reports  from  seventy  persons  of  the  highest  authority  in  this 
matter.  All  that  he  had,  which  alone  ought  to  have  convinced 
him  that  the  time  had  arrived  when  that  Act  ought  to  be 
continued.  However,  Her  Majesty's  Government  took  quite  a 
different  view.  They  made  up  their  minds,  not  only  to  give  a 
good  shake  to  the  Congress  of  Berlin,  and  to  do  everything 
they  could  to  inform  every  being  in  Central  Asia,  and  in  every 
other  part  of  Asia,  that  they  meant  to  cut  and  run  from  the 
scene  of  a  splendid  conquest,  but,  following  the  same  plan  of 
throwing  a  stigma  on  everything  which  their  predecessors  had 
proposed  or  executed,  they  determined  that  Ireland  was  to  be 
considered  as  a  country  in  a  state  of  comfort  and  satisfaction, 
and  they  have  from  that  moment  been  legislating  and 
administering  affairs  for  a  country  in  a  state  of  comfort  and 
satisfaction. 

As  time  has  advanced  they  have  changed  their  course. 
Now,  at  the  last  moment,  they  are  about  to  do  so  on  a  great 
scale,  because,  unless  they  do  it  on  a  great  scale,  it  is  useless. 
Why,  if  they  had  only  deigned  to  follow  in  the  steps  of  their 
predecessors — if  they  had  only  partially  done  so — they  would 
not  have  found  themselves  in  their  present  difficulties. 
Was  the  country  really  so  devoid  of  incident  that  there  was 
nothing  to  guide  them  as  to  the  immediate  future  ?  Parlia- 
ment was  prorogued  on  September  7,  and  the  only  allusion  in 
the  Queen's  Speech  to  the  state  of  Ireland  was  an  expression  of 
satisfaction  that  the  condition  of  the  people  had  been  improved 
by  the  harvest.  Only  a  few  days  afterwards  the  murder  of 
Lord  Mountnorris  occurred.  Your  lordships  know  the  condi- 
tion of  Ireland  at  the  present  time.  Europe  knows  it,  Asia 
knows  it.  It  is  no  longer,  unhappily,  a  merely  English  ques- 
tion. The  honour,  perhaps  the  existence,  of  England  depends 
upon  our  rallying  our  forces,  not  only  with  regard  to  Ireland, 
but  with  regard  to  other  scenes  of  disquietude  and  danger 
which  have  been  created  by  what  has  occurred  in  Ireland. 

It  may  be  said,  If  these  are  your  views,  why  do  you  not  call 
upon  Parliament  to  express  them  ?  Well,  I  do  not  know  any- 
thing which  would  be  more  justifiable  than  an  amendment  on  the 
Address  expressing  our  deep  regret  that  measures  for  maintain- 

o  t 


228  SPEECHES  OF  THE   EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ing  peace  and  order,  for  guarding  life  and  property,  and,  let 
me  add,  liberty,  which  I  think  is  equally  in  danger  in  Ireland, 
were  not  taken  in  time,  and  pointing  out  that  if  such  measures 
had  been  taken  in  time  an  enormous  number  of  terrible 
incidents  might  have  been  averted ;  that  men  would  now  have 
been  alive  who  have  been  murdered ;  that  houses  would  now 
have  been  in  existence  which  have  been  burned  ;  that  cases  of 
torture  to  man  and  beast  would  never  have  happened — for 
these  things,  as  your  lordships  are  aware,  have  mainly  occurred 
within  the  past  two  months.  But,  my  lords,  there  are  occasions 
when  even  party  considerations  must  be  given  up.  There  are 
occasions  when  it  may  not  be  wise,  even  for  your  lordships,  to 
place  yourselves,  as  it  were,  at  the  head  of  public  opinion  in 
indignant  remonstrance  at  the  action  of  the  ministry.  The 
great  dangers  and  disasters  which  have  been  impending  or 
have  happened  in  this  country  during  the  past  nine  months 
have  arisen  from  the  abuse  of  party  feeling  ;  and  for  that  reason 
alone,  if  there  were  no  other,  I  would  recommend  your  lordships 
to  pause  before  taking  any  step  which  would  weaken  the  move- 
ments of  the  administration  at  this  moment.  I  conclude  that 
the  Government  have  come  to  their  determination  in  a  bona 
fide  spirit.  I  expect  that  their  Bills,  when  introduced,  will  be 
found  adequate  to  the  occasion,  for  I  am  convinced  that  only 
ridicule  will  result  if  they  are  not  conceived  in  a  comprehensive 
spirit.  I  conclude  also  that  it  is  their  intention  to  proceed 
with  these  Bills  de  die  in  diem,  in  order  that  some  hope,  some 
courage  may  be  given  to  our  loyal  and  long-suffering  subjects 
in  Ireland.  When  those  Bills  have  been  passed,  we  shall  be 
ready  to  consider  any  other  measures  which  Her  Majesty's 
Government  may  bring  before  Parliament.  But  I  think  it 
utter  mockery  to  discuss  any  questions  connected  with  Ireland 
now,  except  the  restoration  of  peace  and  order,  the  re-establish- 
ment of  the  sovereignty  of  the  Queen,  and  a  policy  that  will 
announce  to  Europe  that  the  spirit  of  England  has  not  ceased, 
and  that,  great  as  are  the  dangers  that  now  environ  ministers, 
the  Parliament  of  England  will  be  equal  to  the  occasion. 


PAET  II. 

INDIAN   AND    COLONIAL   SPEECHES. 


ROYAL  TITLES  BILL MARCH  9,  1876. 

AFGHAN  WAR DEC.  10,  1878. 

WAR  IN  SOUTH  AFRICA    ....  MARCH  16,  1879. 

ANSWER  TO  DUKE  OF  ARGYLL      .         .  FEB.  20,  1880. 

EVACUATION  OF  CANDAHAR  .         .         .  MARCH  4,  1881. 


ROYAL  TITLES  BILL.1     March  9,  1876. 

[On  February  17,  1876,  Mr.  Disraeli  introduced  a  Bill  for  enabling 
Her  Majesty  to  adopt  a  new  title  for  the  sovereignty  of  India. 
When  it  became  known  that  the  title  selected  was  that  of  Empress,  a 
violent  ferment  was  raised  by  the  Opposition,  who  denounced  the 
attempt  to  introduce  'a  bastard  imperialism'  into'  the  English 
monarchy,  and  under  cover  of  a  new  form  to  insinuate  the  thin 
end  of  the  wedge  of  military  despotism.  At  this  distance  of  time  one 
wonders  at  the  violence  displayed.  It  subsequently  appeared  that 
the  title  of  Empress  was  first  applied  to  Her  Majesty  by  the  Duke  of 
Argyle  when  Secretary  of  State  for  India.] 

IN  moving  the  second  reading  of  this  Bill  I  take  the  oppor- 
tunity of  noticing  a  question  which  was  addressed  to  me 
a  few  days  ago  by  the  honourable  member  for  Banbury.2  I 
thought  at  the  time  that  the  question  was  unfair  and  improper. 
The  question  was  whether  I  was  then  prepared  to  inform  the 
House  of  the  title  which  Her  Majesty  would  be  advised  to 
adopt  with  respect  to  the  matter  contained  in  the  Bill  before 
us,  and  my  answer  was,  that  I  was  not  then  prepared  to  give 
the  information  to  the  House.  It  appeared  to  me  that  that 
appeal,  as  I  ventured  to  remark,  was  unfair  and  improper,  be- 
cause, in  the  first  place,  on  a  controversial  matter,  it  required 
me  to  make  a  statement  respecting  which  I  could  offer  no 
argument,  as  the  wise  rules  of  this  House,  as  regards  questions 
and  answers,  are  established.  I  should,  therefore,  have  had  to 
place  before  the  House,  on  a  matter  respecting  which  there  is 
controversy,  the  decision  of  the  Government,  at  the  same  time 
being  incapacitated  from  offering  any  argument  in  favour  of  it. 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Debates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

2  Mr.  B.  Samuelson. 


232  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

I  thought  the  question  was  improper,  also,  in  the  second  place, 
because  it  was  a  dealing  with  the  royal  prerogative  that,  to 
say  the  least,  was  wanting,  as  I  thought,  in  respect.  Both 
sides  of  the  House  agree  that  we  are  ruled  by  a  strictly  con- 
stitutional Sovereign.  But  the  constitution  has  invested  Her 
Majesty  with  prerogatives  of  which  she  is  wisely  jealous,  which 
she  exercises  always  with  firmness,  but  ever,  when  the  feelings 
and  claims  of  Parliament  are  concerned,  with  the  utmost  con- 
sideration. It  is  the  more  requisite,  therefore,  that  we  should 
treat  these  prerogatives  with  the  greatest  respect,  not  to  say 
reverence.  In  the  present  case  if  Her  Majesty  had  desired  to 
impart  to  the  House  of  Commons  information  which  the  House 
required,  the  proper  time  would  certainly  be  when  the  Bill  in 
question  was  under  the  consideration  of  the  House.  It  would 
be  more  respectful  to  the  House,  as  well  as  to  the  Queen,  that 
such  a  communication  should  be  made  when  the  House  was 
assembled  to  discuss  the  question  before  them ;  and  such  in- 
formation ought  not  to  be  imparted,  I  think,  in  answer  to  the 
casual  inquiry  of  an  individual  member. 

From  the  beginning  there  has  been  no  mystery  at  any  time 
upon  this  matter.  So  far  as  the  Government  are  concerned  they 
have  acted  strictly  according  to  precedent,  and  it  has  not  been 
in  my  power  until  the  present  evening  to  impart  any  information 
to  the  House  upon  the  subject  on  which  they  intimated  a  wish 
to  be  informed.  But,  upon  the  first  night,  when  I  introduced 
this  Bill,  I  did  say,  alluding  to  the  prerogative  of  the  Queen, 
and  Her  Majesty's  manner  of  exercising  that  prerogative,  that 
I  did  not  anticipate  difficulties  upon  the  subject.  To  this  point, 
in  the  course  of  the  few  observations  I  have  to  make,  I  shall 
recur ;  but,  before  doing  so,  I  shall  make  some  remarks  upon 
the  objections  which  have  been  made  to  a  title  which  it  has 
been  gratuitously  assumed  that  Her  Majesty,  with  respect  to 
her  dominions  in  India,  wishes  to  adopt.  It  is  a  remarkable 
circumstance  that  all  those  who  have  made  objections  on  this 
subject,  have  raised  their  objections  to  one  particular  title 
alone.  One  alone  has  occurred  to  them — which  prima,  facie 
is  rather  an  argument  in  favour  of  its  being  an  apposite  title. 
No  doubt  other  objections  have  been  urged  in  the  debate,  and 


EOYAL  TITLES   BILL.  233 

I  will  refer  to  them  before  proceeding  to  the  other  pait  of  my 
remarks.  It  has  been  objected  that  the  title  of  Emperor  and 
Empress  denotes  military  dominion;  that  it  has  never  or 
rarely  been  adopted  but  by  those  who  have  obtained  dominion 
by  the  sword,  retained  it  by  the  sword,  and  governed  by  the 
sword ;  and,  to  use  the  words  of  a  right  honourable  gentleman l 
who  took  part  in  the  recent  debate — '  Sentiment  clothes  the 
title  of  Emperor  with  bad  associations.' 

Now,  the  House  must  at  once  feel  what  vague  and  shadowy 
arguments — if  they  can  be  called  arguments — are  these : 
*  Sentiment  clothes  the  title  of  Emperor  with  bad  associations.' 
I  very  much  doubt  whether  sentiment  does  clothe  the  title  of 
Emperor  with  bad  associations.  I  can  remember,  and  many 
gentlemen  can  remember,  the  immortal  passage  of  the  greatest 
of  modern  historians,  where  he  gives  his  opinion  that  the  hap- 
piness of  mankind  was  never  so  completely  assured  or  so  long 
a  time  maintained  as  in  the  age  of  the  Antonines,  and  the 
Antonines  were  emperors.  The  honourable  gentleman  may  be 
of  opinion  that  an  imperial  title  is  a  modern  invention,  and  its 
associations  to  him  may  be  derived  from  a  limited  experience, 
of  which  he  may  be  proud.  But  when  so  large  a  principle  is 
laid  down  by  one  distinguished  for  his  historical  knowledge,  that 
'  Sentiment  clothes  the  title  of  Emperor  with  bad  associations,' 
I  may  be  allowed  to  vindicate  what  I  believe  to  be  the  truth 
upon  this  matter.  Then  a  second  objection  was  urged — it  was 
said,  '  This  is  a  clumsy  periphrasis  in  which  you  are  involving 
the  country  if  you  have  not  only  royal  but  imperial  majesties.' 
Now,  the  right  honourable  gentleman  who  made  the  remark, 
ought  to  have  recollected  that  there  would  be  no  clumsy  peri- 
phrasis of  the  kind.  The  majesty  of  England  requires  for  its 
support  no  epithet.  The  Queen  is  not  Her  Eoyal  Majesty. 
The  Queen  is  described  properly  as  Her  Majesty.  Therefore 
the  clumsy  periphrasis  of  '  Koyal  and  Imperial '  Majesty  could 
never  occur. 

There  is,  however,  a  stronger  and  more  important  objection 
which  has  been  brought  to  this  title  of  Empress.     Put  briefly 
and  concisely  it  is  this — that  we  diminish  the  supremacy  of 
1  Mr.  Lowe,  afterwards  Lord  Sherbrook. 


234  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

the  queenly  title  by  investing  Her  Majesty,  though  only  locally, 
with  an  imperial  dignity.  I  deny  that  any  imperial  dignity  is 
superior  to  the  queenly  title,  and  I  defy  anyone  to  prove  the 
reverse.  (Hear.)  I  am  happy  to  have  that  cheer;  but  I  hear 
and  read  every  day  of  an  intention  to  invest  Her  Majesty  with 
a  title  superior  to  that  which  she  has  inherited  from  an  illus- 
trious line  of  ancestors.  It  is  necessary,  therefore,  to  notice 
this  statement.  In  times  which  will  guide  us  in  any  way  upon 
such  a  subject,  I  doubt  whether  there  is  any  precedent  of  an 
emperor  ranking  superior  to  a  crowned  head,  unless  that 
crowned  head  was  his  avowed  feudatory.  I  will  take  the  most 
remarkable  instance  of  imperial  sway  in  modern  history. 
When  the  Holy  Roman  Empire  existed,  and  the  German 
Emperor  was  crowned  at  Rome  and  called  Csesar,  no  doubt  the 
princes  of  Germany,  who  were  his  feudatories,  acknowledged 
his  supremacy,  whatever  might  be  his  title. 

But  in  those  days  there  were  great  kings — there  were  kings 
of  France,  and  kings  of  Spain,  and  kings  of  England — they 
never  acknowledged  the  supremacy  of  the  Head  of  the  Holy 
Roman  Empire,  and  the  origin,  I  have  no  doubt,  of  the  ex- 
pression of  the  Act  of  Henry  VIII.,  where  the  crown  of  England 
is  described  as  an  imperial  crown,  was  the  determination  of 
that  eminent  monarch  that  a*t  least  there  should  be  no  mis- 
take upon  the  subject  between  himself  and  the  Emperor 
Charles  V.  These  may  be  considered  antiquarian  illustrations, 
and  I  will  not  dwell  upon  them,  but  will  take  more  recent 
cases  at  a  time  when  the  intercourse  of  nations  and  of  Courts 
was  regulated  by  the  same  system  of  diplomacy  which  now 
prevails.  Upon  this  question,  then,  I  say  there  can  be  no  mis- 
take, for  it  has  been  settled  by  the  assent,  and  the  solemn 
assent,  of  Europe.  In  the  middle  of  the  last  century  a  remark- 
able instance  occurred  which  brought  to  a  crisis  this  contro- 
versy, if  it  were  a  point  of  controversy.  When  Peter  the 
Great  emerged  from  his  anomalous  condition  as  a  powerful 
sovereign — hardly  recognised  by  his  brother  sovereigns — he 
changed  the  style  and  title  of  his  office  from  that  of  Czar  to 
Emperor.  That  addition  was  acknowledged  by  England  and 
by  England  alone.  The  rulers  of  Russia  as  Emperors  remained 


ROYAL   TITLES  BILL.  235 

unrecognised  by  the  great  comity  of  nations ;  and  after 
Peter  the  Great  they  still  continued  to  bear  the  titles  of  Czar 
and  Czarina ;  for  more  than  one  female  sovereign  flourished  in 
Russia  about  the  middle  of  the  century.  In  1745,  Elizabeth, 
Czarina  of  Russia,  having  by  her  armies  and  her  councils 
interfered  considerably  in  the  affairs  of  Europe — probably 
(though  I  am  not  sure  of  this)  influenced  by  the  circumstances 
that  the  first  Congress  of  Aix  la  Chapelle,  in  the  middle  of 
the  last  century,  was  about  to  meet — announced  to  her  allies 
and  to  her  brother  sovereigns  that  she  intended  in  future  to 
take  the  title  of  Empress,  instead  of  Czarina.  Considerable 
excitement  and  commotion  were  caused  at  all  the  Courts  and 
in  all  the  Governments  of  Europe  in  consequence  of  this  an- 
nouncement ;  but  the  new  title  was  recognised  on  condition  that 
Her  Majesty  should  at  the  same  time  write  a  letter,  called,  in 
diplomatic  language,  a  reversal,  acknowledging  that  she  thereby 
made  no  difference  in  the  etiquette  and  precedence  of  the 
European  Courts,  and  would  only  rank  upon  terms  of  equality 
with  the  other  crowned  heads  of  Europe.  Upon  these  terms 
France,  Spain,  Austria,  and  Hungary  admitted  the  Empress  of 
Russia  into  their  equal  society. 

For  the  next  twenty  years,  under  Peter  III.,  there  were  dis- 
cussions on  the  subject ;  but  he  also  gave  a  reversal,  disclaiming 
superiority  to  other  crowned  heads  in  taking  the  title  of 
Emperor.  When  Catherine  II.  came  to  the  throne,  she  objected 
to  write  this  reversal,  as  being  inconsistent  with  the  dignity  of 
a  crowned  sovereign ;  and  she  herself  issued  an  edict  to  her 
own  subjects,  announcing,  on  her  accession,  her  rank,  style,  and 
title ;  and  distinctly  informing  her  subjects  that,  though  she 
took  that  style  and  title,  she  only  wished  to  rank  with  the 
other  sovereigns  of  Europe.  I  should  say  that  the  whole  of 
the  diplomatic  proceedings  of  the  world  from  that  time  have 
acknowledged  that  result,  and  there  can  be  no  question  on  the 
subject.  There  was  an  attempt  at  the  Congress  of  Vienna  to 
introduce  the  subject  of  the  classification  of  sovereigns  ;  but  the 
difficulties  of  the  subject  were  acknowledged  by  Prince  Metter- 
nich,  by  Lord  Castlereagh,  and  by  all  the  eminent  statesmen 
of  the  time  ;  the  subject  was  dropped  ;  the  equality  of  crowned 


236  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACOSSFIELD. 

heads  was  again  acknowledged,  and  the  mode  of  precedence  of 
their  representatives  at  the  different  Courts  was  settled  by  an 
alphabetical  arrangement,  or  by  the  date  of  their  arrival  and 
letters  of  credit  to  that  Court  at  once  and  for  ever.  The  ques- 
tion of  equality  between  those  sovereigns  who  styled  themselves 
Emperors  and  those  who  were  crowned  heads  of  ancient  king- 
doms, without  reference  to  population,  revenue,  or  extent  of 
territory,  was  established  and  permanently  adopted. 

Now,  Sir,  the  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for  Glasgow 
(Mr.  Anderson)  said  the  other  day,  '  If  Empress  means  nothing 
"more  than  Queen,  why  should  you  have  Empress  ?     If  it  means 
something  else,  then  I  am  against  adopting  it.'     Well,  I  have 
proved  to  you  tnat  it  does  not  mean  anything  else.     Then,  why 
should  you  adopt  it?     Well,  that  is  one  of  those  questions 
which,  if  pursued  in  the  same  spirit,  and  applied  to  all  the  ele- 
ments of  society,  might  resolve  it  into  its  original  elements. 
The  amplification  of  titles  is  no  new  system,  no  new  idea  ;  it  has 
marked  all  ages,  and  has  been  in  accordance  with  the  manners 
and  customs  of  all  countries.     The  amplification  of  titles  is 
founded   upon   a   great  respect   for   local   influences,  for  the 
memory  of  distinguished  deeds,  and  passages  of  interest  in  the 
history  of  countries.     It  is  only  by  the  amplification  of  titles 
that  you  can  often  touch  and  satisfy  the  imagination  of  nations  ; 
and  that  is  an  element  which  Governments  must  not  despise. 
Well,  then,  it  is  said  that  if  this  title  of  Empress  is  adopted,  it 
would  be  un-English.     But  why  un-English  ?     I  have  some- 
times heard  the  ballot  called  un-English,  and  indignant  orators 
on  the  other  side  have  protested  against  the  use  of  an  epithet 
of  that  character  which  nobody  could  define,  and  which  nobody 
ought  to  employ.     I  should  like  to  know  why  the  title  is  un- 
English.     A  gentleman  the  other  day,  referring  to  this  question 
now  exciting  Parliament  and  the  country,  recalled  to  the  recol- 
lection of  the  public  the  dedication  of  one  of  the  most  beautiful 
productions    of  the  English  muse  to  the   Sovereign   of  this 
country ;  and  speaking  of  the  age  distinguished  by  an  Elizabeth, 
by  a  Shakespeare,  and  by  a  Bacon,  he  asked  whether  the  use 
of  the  word  Empress,  applied  by  one  who  was  second  in  his 
power  of  expression  and  in  his  poetic  resources  only  to  Shake- 


EOYAL   TITLES   BILL.  237 

speare  himself,  in  the  dedication  of  an  immortal  work  to  Queen 
Elizabeth  was  not,  at  least,  an  act  which  proved  that  the  word 
and  the  feeling  were  not  un-English  ?  Then,  of  course,  it  was 
immediately  answered  by  those  who  criticised  the  illustration 
that  this  was  merely  the  fancy  of  a  poet.  But  I  do  not  think 
it  was  the  fancy  of  a  poet.  The  fancy  of  the  most  fanciful  of 
poets  was  exhausted  in  the  exuberant  imagination  which 
idealised  his  illustrious  Sovereign  as  the  '  Faery  Queen.'  He 
did  not  call  her  Empress  then — he  called  her  the  < Faery  Queen.' 
But  when  his  theme  excited  the  admiration  of  royalty — when 
he  had  the  privilege  of  reciting  some  of  his  cantos  to  Queen 
Elizabeth,  and  she  expressed  a  wish  that  the  work  should  be 
dedicated  to  her — then  Spenser  had,  no  doubt,  to  consult  the 
friends  in  whom  he  could  confide  as  to  the  style  in  which  he 
should  approach  so  solemn  an  occasion,  and  win  to  himself  still 
more  the  interest  of  his  illustrious  Sovereign.  He  was  a  man 
who  lived  among  courtiers  and  statesmen.  He  had  as  friends 
Sidney  and  Raleigh ;  and  I  have  little  doubt  that  it  was  by  the 
advice  of  Sidney  and  Raleigh  that  he  addressed  his  Sovereign 
as  Empress,1  '  The  Queen  of  England,  of  Ireland,  and  of  Virginia^' 
the  hand  of  Sir  Walter  Raleigh  being  probably  shown  in  the 
title  of  the  Queen  of  Virginia ;  and  it  is  not  at  all  improbable 
that  Elizabeth  herself,  who  possessed  so  much  literary  taste,  and 
who  prided  herself  upon  improving  the  phrases  of  the  greatest 
poet,  revised  the  dedication.  That  example  clearly  shows  that 
the  objection  of  this  assumed  adoption  by  Her  Majesty  of  the 
title  of  Empress  as  un-English  could  hardly  exist  in  an  age 
when  the  word  was  used  with  so  much  honour — in  an  age  of 

*  words  which  wise  Bacon  and  brave  Raleigh  spake.' 

I  think  it  is  obvious  from  these  remarks,  made  upon  the 
assumption  that  the  title  which  Her  Majesty  would  be  pleased 
to  adopt  by  her  Proclamation  would  be  '  Empress,'  that  the 
title  would  be  one  to  which  there  could  be  no  objection. 
I  am  empowered,  therefore,  to  say  that  the  title  would  be 

*  Empress,' and  that  Her  Majesty  would  be  'Victoria,  by  the 
Grace  of  God,  of  the  United  Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and 

1  '  To  the  most  mightie  and  magnificent  Empresse,  Elizabeth,  by  the  Grace 
of  God,  Queen  of  England,  &c.' 


238  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACOXSFIELD. 

Ireland,  Queen,  Defender  of  the  Faith,  and  Empress  of  India.' 
Now,  I  know  it  may  be  said — it  was  said  at  a  recent  debate  and 
urged  strongly  by  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member 
for  Bradford  (Mr.  W.  E.  Forster)— that  this  addition  to  Her 
Majesty's  style,  and  in  this  addition    alone,  we  are  treating 
without   consideration    the    colonies.      I  cannot   in   any   way 
concur  in  that  opinion.     No  one  honours  more  than  myself  the 
Colonial  Empire  of  England ;  no  one  is  more  anxious  to  main- 
tain it.     No  one  regrets  more  than  I  do  that  favourable  oppor- 
tunities have  been  lost  of  identifying  the  colonies  with  the  royal 
race  of  England.     But  we  have  to  deal  now  with  another  sub- 
ject, and  one  essentially  different  from  the  colonial  condition. 
The  condition  of  India  and  the  condition  of  the  colonies  have 
no  similarity.     In  the  colonies  you  have,  first  of  all,  a  fluctuat- 
ing population ;  a  man  is  member  of  Parliament,  it  may  be,  for 
Melbourne  this  year,  and  next  year  he  is  member  of  Parliament 
for  Westminster.     A  colonist  finds  a  nugget,  or  he  fleeces  a 
thousand  flocks.    He  makes  a  fortune.   He  returns  to  England, 
he  buys  an  estate ;  he  becomes  a  magistrate ;  he  represents 
Majesty ;    he    becomes    high    sheriff:    he   has   a   magnificent 
house  near  Hyde  Park  ;  he  goes  to  Court,  to  levees,  to  drawing- 
rooms  ;  he  has  an  opportunity  of  plighting  his  troth  personally 
to  his  Sovereign :  he  is  in  frequent  and  direct  communication 
with  her.   But  that  is  not  the  case  with  the  inhabitant  of  India. 
The  condition  of  colonial  society  is  of  a  fluctuating  character. 
Its  political  and  social  elements  change.     I  remember,  twenty 
years  ago,  a  distinguished  statesman  (?)  who  willingly  would  have 
seen  a  Dukedom  of  Canada.     But  Canada  has  now  no  separate 
existence.     It  is  called  the  '  Dominion,'  and  includes  several 
other  provinces.     There  is  no  similarity  between  the  circum- 
stances of  our  colonial  fellow-subjects  in  India.     Our  colonists 
are  English ;  they  come,  they  go,  they  are  careful  to  make  for- 
tunes, to  invest  their  money  in  England ;  their  interests  in  this 
country   are  immense,  ramified,  complicated,  and  they  have 
constant  opportunities  of  improving  and  employing  the  rela- 
tions which  exist  between  themselves  and  their  countrymen  in 
the  metropolis.     Their  relations  to  the  Sovereign  are  ample ; 
they  satisfy  them.     The  colonists  are  proud  of  those  relations; 


KOYAL  TITLES   BILL.  239 

they  are  interested  in  the  titles  of  the  Queen  ;  they  look  forward 
to  return  when  they  leave  England ;  they  do  return  ;  in  short, 
they  are  Englishmen. 

Now  let  me  say  one  word  before  I  move  the  second  reading 
of  this  Bill,  upon  the  effect  it  may  have  upon  India.  It  is  not 
without  consideration,  it  is  not  without  the  utmost  care,  it  is 
not  until  after  the  deepest  thought,  that  we  have  felt  it  our 
duty  to  introduce  this  Bill  into  Parliament.  It  is  desired  in 
India ;  it  is  anxiously  expected.  The  princes  and  nations 
of  India,  unless  we  are  deceived — and  we  have  omitted  no 
means  by  which  we  could  obtain  information  and  form  opinions 
—look  to  it  with  the  utmost  interest.  They  know  exactly  what 
it  means,  though  there  may  be  some  honourable  members  in 
this  House  who  do  not.  They  know  in  India  what  this  Bill 
means,  and  they  know  that  what  it  means  is  what  they  wish. 
I  do  myself  most  earnestly  impress  upon  the  House  to  remove 
prejudice  from  their  minds  and  to  pass  the  second  reading  of 
this  Bill  without  a  division.  Let  not  our  divisions  be  miscon- 
strued. Let  the  people  of  India  feel  that  there  is  a  sympathetic 
chord  between  us  and  them,  and  do  not  let  Europe  suppose  for 
a  moment  that  there  are  any  in  this  House  who  are  not  deeply 
conscious  of  the  importance  of  our  Indian  Empire.  Unfor- 
tunate words  have  been  heard  in  the  debate  upon  this  subject: 
but  I  will  not  believe  that  any  member  of  this  House  seriously 
contemplates  the  loss  of  our  Indian  Empire.  I  trust,  therefore, 
that  the  House  will  give  to  this  Bill  a  second  reading  without 
a  division.  By  permission  of  the  Queen,  I  have  communicated, 
on  the  part  of  my  colleagues,  the  intention  of  Her  Majesty, 
which  she  will  express  in  her  Proclamation.  If  you  sanction 
the  passing  of  this  Bill,  it  will  be  an  act,  to  my  mind,  that  will 
add  splendour  even  to  her  throne,  and  security  even  to  her 
empire. 


&  r  i  Q 


240  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


THE  AFGHAN   WAR.     December  10,  1878. 

[On  December  5,  1878,  Parliament  was  called  together  to  receive 
a  message  from  the  Queen  requesting  that  provision  might  be  made  for 
an  expeditionary  force  despatched  against  the  Ameer  of  Afghanistan. 
He  had  received  a  Russian  envoy,  and  had  declined  to  admit  an 
English  one.  Explanations  were  demanded  and  refused,  and  war  was 
the  result.  Lord  Grey  moved  an  Amendment  to  the  Address,  which 
was  negatived  without  a  division.  But  on  the  following  Monday,  the 
9th,  on  Lord  Cranbrook  moving  that  Parliament  do  consent  to  the 
application  of  the  Indian  Revenue  to  this  purpose,  an  Amend- 
ment embodying  a  vote  of  censure  was  moved  by  Lord  Halifax,  and 
produced  a  debate  of  two  nights.  The  Amendment  was  defeated  by 
201  votes  to  65  ;  and  on  the  second  night  Lord  Beaconsfield  wound 
up  the  debate  with  a  speech  which  extorted  the  admiration  of  some 
of  his  most  hostile  critics,] 

>Y  LOEDS, — I  hope  you  will  think  me  justified  if  I  ask  to 
detain  you  for  a  few  moments.  My  noble  and  learned 
friend  on  the  woolsack  sketched  to  us,  as  it  were  in  allegory,  a 
picture  that  may  give  to  your  lordships  an  idea  of  this  north- 
western boundary  that  has  been  the  subject  of  discussion  these 
two  nights.  My  lords,  I  think  it  is  advisable  that  at  this 
moment  some  general  conception  of  this  scheme  should  be  in 
your  possession.  I  would  picture  it,  not  in  allegory,  but  such  as 
it  really  exists.  That  boundary,  that  north-western  boundary  of 
our  Indian  Empire,  is  a  chain  of  mountains  of  the  highest 
branch ;  a  branch,  indeed,  of  mountains  the  highest  in  the 
world,  and  higher  even  than  the  Andes.  Yet  no  portion  of 
this  country  is  in  possession  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  Indian 
Empire  or  Grov eminent,  and  through  its  passes  invading  armies 
may  make  their  raids,  or  wild  and  turbulent  tribes  ravage  the 
fertile  plains  which  are  entrusted  to  your  Government  in  that 
part  of  the  world.  Well,  then,  my  lords,  I  ventured  to  say 


THE   AFGHAN  WAR,   DECEMBER   1878.  241 

that  the  inconvenience  and  the  injury  of  such  a  boundary  were 
felt  by  the  Grovernment  of  India,  and  had  been  more  than 
once  the  subject  of  their  consideration,  and  the  noble  viscount 
who  moves  this  amendment  expressed  upon  that  subject  his 
incredulity  with  respect  to  my  observations.  He  told  us  that 
he  had  much  acquaintance  with  the  Governors  of  India,  and 
that  he  could  not  recall  any  Viceroy  who  had  experienced  a 
feeling  or  conviction  of  that  kind. 

Well,  now,  my  lords,  let  us  look  for  a  moment  to  the  facts 
of  the  case.  We  have  been  in  possession  of  this  boundary  for, 
I  believe,  twenty-eight  years.  During  that  period  we  have  been 
obliged  to  fit  out  nineteen  considerable  expeditions  to  control 
its  inhabitants,  between  fifty  and  sixty  guerilla  enterprises,  and 
have  employed  upon  these  expeditions  between  50,000  and 
60,000  of  Her  Majesty's  troops.  All  I  can  say  is  that  if  none 
of  the  Viceroys  of  India  who  are  the  acquaintances  of  the  noble 
lord  have  felt  the  inconvenience,  or  if  they  have  been  insensible 
to  the  injury,  of  such  a  boundary,  they  were  not  fit  to  be 
Viceroys.  But  I  cannot  believe  that  that  is  the  case.  My 
information  would  lead  me  to  a  very  different  result.  The 
government  of  India  is  not  merely  a  concern  of  Viceroys,  but 
it  is  a  concern  of  statesmen,  both  eminent  civilians  and  military 
leaders  of  world-wide  renown.  And  it  was  the  information 
which  I  derived  from  one  of  the  most  eminent  individuals  of 
that  character  and  class  that  influenced  me  to  make  that  ob- 
servation which  I  made.  That  eminent  personage  was  for  a 
considerable  time  a  member  of  the  Indian  administration. 
He  was  not  prejudiced  in  favour  of  the  views  adopted  by  Her 
Majesty's  Grovernment.  For  a  considerable  period,  notwith- 
standing his  sense  of  the  inconvenience  and  the  injury  of  this 
boundary,  he  was  one  of  those  who  opposed  any  change,  because 
he  believed  it  was  better  to  incur  that  inconvenience  and 
injury  than  to  embark  on  the  difficult  office  of  making  a  fresh 
boundary  and  disturbing  arrangements  which  were  necessarily 
of  a  political  character.  Remembering  the  possibility  of  some 
Power  equal  to  our  own  attacking  us  in  that  part  of  the  world, 
and  remembering  also  that  some  ten  years  ago  that  Power  was 
2,000  miles  distant  from  our  boundaries,  a  man  might  con- 

VOL.    II.  R 


242  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

sistently  have  upheld  the  arrangement  that  then  existed,  and 
yet  might  by  the  force  of  circumstances  and  the  lapse  of  time 
be  now  a  sincere  supporter  of  the  policy  which  Her  Majesty's 
Grovernment  now  recommends. 

That,  for  instance,  is  the  case  of  Lord  Napier  of  Magdala. 
It  was  only  recently  that  I  received  a  telegram  from  him  in 
which  he  says,  *  A  careful  study  of  our  frontier  convinces  me 
that  a  rectification  of  our  frontier  is  necessary.'  Those  are  the 
words  of  one  of  great  experience  and  of  consummate  ability  and 
judgment,  who  for  a  long  time  was  opposed  to  that  which  he 
now  finds  is  absolutely  necessary.  He  does  not  shrink  from 
the  use  of  the  word  '  rectification,'  although  definitions  of  that 
word  have  been  given  by  many  noble  lords  opposite  which  are 
not  to  be  found  in  any  dictionary.  The  noble  earl  who  resumed 
the  'debate  to-night  spoke  of  rectification  as  though  it  were 
another  phrase  for  spoliation  and  annexation.  I  expected  those 
cheers  and  wished  to  receive  them.  Another  noble  earl  who 
spoke  in  the  debate  yesterday — I  wrote  down  his  words,  because, 
unfortunately,  on  a  previous  occasion  he  seemed  to  accuse  me 
of  misquoting  him — said,  '  I  hate  the  word  "  rectification."  It 
seems  to  me  to  savour  of  the  worst  traditions  of  the  French 
Empire — a  word  to  conceal  wrong  and  robbery.'  A  noble  earl l 
described  it  as  a  dark  word,  and  he  seemed  to  tremble  as  he 
uttered  it.  For  my  own  part  I  cannot  agree  in  any  of  these 
definitions.  The  rectification  of  our  frontier  is  a  correct  diplo- 
matic term  which  is  accepted  by  the  highest  authorities  and 
which  has  a  precise  and  a  definite  meaning.  The  rectification 
of  frontiers,  instead  of  being  a  word  of  the  French  Empire,  had 
been  long  adopted,  and  your  lordships  will  be  surprised  to  find 
that  the  peace  of  the  world  very  much  depends  upon  those 
treaties.  If  all  the  treaties  for  the  rectification  of  frontiers 
were  destroyed  as  instruments  of  the  terrible  kind  described  by 
noble  lords  opposite  and  by  the  noble  earl  on  the  cross  benches, 
the  peace  of  the  world  would  be  endangered,  and  might  be 
destroyed. 

Well,  my  lords,  after  that  observation  the  other  night,  I 

took  a  note  of  some  treaties  for  the  rectification  of  frontiers, 

1  Earl  of  Carnarvon. 


THE  AFGHAN  WAR,   DECEMBER   1878.  243 

and  I  took  them  on  conditions  which  I  am  sure  your  lordships 
will  agree  are  fair.  First  of  all  they  are  all  modern — I  would 
not  produce  old  specimens.  Secondly,  they  are  not  only 
modern  treaties,  but  treaties  none  of  which  were  entered  into 
or  negotiated  after  a  war.  Therefore  they  are  not  the  con- 
sequences of  force  or  fraud.  Now,  I  find  that  from  1856  to 
1868 — quite  in  our  own  time — there  were  five  treaties  between 
France  and  Spain  for  the  rectification  of  frontiers,  and  I  have 
no  hesitation  myself  in  saying  that  if  any  of  those  treaties  had 
not  taken  place,  there  would  have  been  war  between  France 
and  Spain,  and  that  the  existence  of  those  treaties  prevented 
war.  Between  France  and  Switzerland  there  was  a  treaty  for 
the  rectification  of  frontiers  in  December  1862 — a  treaty  of 
some  celebrity — one  which  was  certainly  not  a  dark  instrument. 
It  was  a  treaty  which  certainly  has  contributed  to  the  main- 
tenance of  peace.  There  is  a  treaty  between  Great  Britain  and 
France  for  the  rectification  of  frontiers,  and  it  might  surprise 
one  to  find  a  treaty  of  that  kind  between  an  island  and  a  con- 
tinent ;  but  it  had  reference  to  their  possessions  in  the  East 
Indies.  That  is  a  modern  treaty.  There  is  a  treaty  for  the 
rectification  of  frontiers  between  Italy  and  Switzerland,  and  one 
between  Portugal  and  the  Transvaal,  of  which  I  believe  the 
noble  earl  on  the  cross  benches  has  some  knowledge.  To  make 
it  complete,  there  is  a  treaty  for  the  rectification  of  frontiers 
between  Great  Britain  and  an  Oriental  kingdom  like  Afghan- 
istan— the  kingdom  of  Siam. 

Now,  I  believe  the  number  of  those  treaties  I  have  mentioned 
— some  dozen — might  be  doubled  or  even  trebled  if  it  were 
necessary.  The  observation  of  the  noble  earl l  deserves  remark. 
A  rectification  of  frontiers  does  not  necessarily  involve  a  dimi- 
nution of  territory.  Many  such  treaties  are  carried  on  by  an 
equivalent.  I  made  no  application  of  those  treaties  to  any  case 
like  Afghanistan.  I  have  not  touched  upon  that  point  yet. 
The  noble  earl  is  impetuous.  It  has  been  said  that  I  stated 
the  object  of  the  war  to  be  a  rectification  of  frontier — the  sub- 
stitution of  a  scientific  for  a  haphazard  frontier.  But  in  the 
first  place  I  never  said  that  was  the  object  of  the  war  T 

1  Earl  Grey. 
£  2 


244     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD . 

treated  it  as  a  possible  consequence  of  the  war,  which  is  a  very 
different  thing.  Our  application  to  the  Ameer  was,  in  fact, 
founded  upon  the  principle  of  rectifying  our  frontier  without 
any  disturbance  of  territory  whatever. 

What  was  our  difficulty  with  regard  to  Afghanistan  ?  We 
could  gain  no  information  as  to  what  was  going  on  beyond  the 
mountain  range  or  what  was  preparing  in  the  numerous  valleys 
of  Afghanistan.  What  we  wanted,  therefore,  was  eyes  to  see 
and  ears  to  hear,  and  we  should  have  attained  our  object  had 
the  Ameer  made  to  us  those  concessions  which  are  commonly 
granted  by  all  civilised  States,  and  which  even  some  Oriental 
States  do  not  deny  us — namely,  to  have  a  minister  at  his 
capital — a  demand  which  we  did  not  press — and  men  like  our 
consuls-general  at  some  of  his  chief  towns.  That  virtually 
would  have  been  a  rectification  of  our  frontier,  because  we 
should  have  got  rid  of  those  obstacles  that  rendered  it  utterly 
impossible  for  us  to  conduct  public  affairs  with  any  knowledge 
of  the  circumstances  with  which  we  had  to  deal  as  regarded 
Afghanistan.  Therefore,  the  noble  earl  is  precipitate  in  con- 
cluding, because  I  am  in  favour  of  a  rectification  of  frontier, 
that  necessarily  any  change  would  occur.  I  only  say  that 
abstractedly  there  is  no  absolute  necessity  for  any  change, 
because  you  may  rectify  a  frontier  in  different  ways — by  equi- 
valents and  so  forth. 

But,  my  lords,  my  observations  on  that  subject  in  another 
place  l  were  made  rather  with  reference  in  my  mind  to  certain 
wild  ideas  that  were  prevalent,  to  the  effect  that  it  was  the 
intention  of  the  Government  to  conquer  Afghanistan  and  annex 
it  to  our  Empire.  I  explained  that  that  was  not  our  object,  and 
that  a  scientific  rectification  of  our  frontier  would  effect  for  us 
all  the  results  we  desired.  And,  my  lords,  what  is  a  scientific 
frontier  compared  with  a  haphazard  one  ?  Why,  it  is,  as  a 
great  military  authority  has  said,  this — a  scientific  frontier  can 
be  defended  with  a  garrison  of  5,000  men,  while  with  a  hap- 
hazard one  you  may  require  an  army  of  100,000  men,  and 
even  then  not  be  safe  from  sudden  attack.  It  is  not  for  us 
now  to  consider  what  arrangements  may  be  made  with  this 
1  Speech  at  Guildhall,  Nov.  9,  1878. 


THE   AFGHAN   WAR,  DECEMBER   1878.  245 

object  further  than  to  say  that  Her  Majesty's  ministers,  after 
all  that  has  occurred,  will  feel  it  their  duty  to  take  care  of  the 
security  of  the  Indian  Empire.  Whatever  may  be  the  objec- 
tions to  the  present  north-western  frontier  of  our  Indian  Em- 
pire, I  have  no  doubt  things  would  have  gone  on  in  the  same 
way,  members  of  the  Indian  administration  would  have  been 
equally  conscious  of  the  deficiencies  of  that  frontier,  and  yet  so 
difficult  is  the  task  of  amending  the  frontier,  and  so  great  are 
the  obstacles  which  certainly  present  themselves,  things  would 
have  gone  on,  I  dare  say,  as  they  had  gone  on  for  twenty-eight 
years,  had  it  not  been  for  the  sudden  appearance  of  Eussia  in 
the  immediate  vicinity  of  Afghanistan. 

I  speak  on  that  subject  with  frankness.  It  is,  no  doubt,  much 
easier  to  speak  of  it  now  than  it  would  have  been  a  year  ago,  or 
eight  months  ago.  Eight  months  ago  war  was  more  than  probable 
between  this  country  and  Russia,  and  a  word  might  have  pre- 
cipitated that  war.  At  present  we  know  from  the  language  of 
the  gracious  Speech  from  the  Throne  that  Her  Majesty's  rela- 
tions with  all  Powers  are  friendly,  and  they  are  not  less  friendly 
with  Russia  than  with  any  other  Power.  I  will  say  of  the 
expedition  which  Russia  was  preparing  in  Central  Asia  at  the 
time  when  she  believed  that  war  was  inevitable  between  our 
country  and  herself — I  will  say  at  once  that  I  hold  that  all  those 
preparations  on  the  part  of  Russia  were  perfectly  allowable  ;  and 
if  war  had  occurred  of  course  they  would  have  contributed  to 
bring  about  the  ultimate  result  whatever  it  might  have  been. 
Had  we  been  in  the  position  of  Russia,  I  doubt  not  we  might 
have  undertaken  some  enterprise  of  a  similar  kind.  No  doubt 
there  were  a  great  many  wild  expressions  uttered  by  persons  of 
some  authority.  No  doubt  there  have  been  dreams  indulged 
in  by  individuals  which  were  never  realised.  I  dare  say  there 
are  Russian  officers  who  would  not  have  disliked  to  cool  the 
hoofs  of  their  horses  in  the  waters  of  the  'Indus;  on  the 
other  hand,  I  dare  say,  there  were  some  English  soldiers  who 
would  have  liked  to  catch  a  glance  of  the  Caspian,  and  to 
have  exclaimed  tfaXarra,  like  the  soldiers  of  Xenophon.  We 
may  now  dismiss  from  our  considerations  all  these  dreams  and 
wild  expressions,  and  admit  that  if  war  had  occurred  between  the 


246  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF   BEACONSFIELD . 

two  countries,  all  the  preparations  in  Central  Asia  against  Great 
Britain  in  India  were  perfectly  justifiable  ;  but,  when  it  was 
found  out  that  war  was  not  to  be  made,  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment made  courteous  representations  to  St.  Petersburg,  and  it 
was  impossible  that  anything  could  be  more  frank  and  satisfac- 
tory than  the  manner  in  which  they  were  met.  The  Emperor  of 
Kussia  said,  '  It  is  very  true  we  did  intend  to  injure  you  as  much 
as  we  could  on  your  Indian  border,  but  war  has  not  occurred. 
War,  I  trust,  will  not  occur  between  Russia  and  England.  We 
have  already  given  orders  for  the  troops  to  retire  to  their  old 
stations  beyond  the  Oxus ;  our  ambassador  shall  be  merely  con- 
sidered as  a  provisional  ambassador  on  a  mission  of  courtesy, 
and  as  soon  as  possible  he  shall  return.'  I  think  that  was  suffi- 
cient and  satisfactory  conduct  on  the  part  of  Russia  in  regard 
to  this  matter. 

But  it  is  totally  impossible  for  us,  after  all  that  has  oc- 
curred, to  leave  things  as  they  were.  After  you  had  found  the 
Russian  armies  almost  in  sight  of  Afghanistan,  and  their 
embassy  within  the  walls  of  Cabul,  you  could  not  go  on  with 
the  old  system  and  indulge  in  the  fancy  that  your  frontier  was 
a  becoming  and  secure  frontier  in  the  circumstances.  It  was, 
therefore,  absolutely  necessary  to  consider  what  course  we  should 
take.  The  noble  earl  who  spoke  last  night  from  the  cross  bench 
made  a  most  ingenious  speech,  marked  by  all  his  characteristics. 
I  never  was  more  pleased.  I  listened  for  a  long  time  to  what 
seemed  a  complete  vindication  of  the  Government ;  and  remem- 
bering it  came  from  an  old  comrade  in  arms  with  whom  I  had 
worked  for  a  quarter  of  a  century  with  entire  concert,  who  had 
left  me  unfortunately  from  circumstances  over  which  he  had 
no  control,  I  thought  he  was  making  the  amende  by  taking  an 
early  opportunity  of  vindicating  the  policy  of  the  Government. 
But,  before  sitting  down,  all  that  romantic  flutter  of  the  heart 
which  I  had  experienced  entirely  ceased  when  I  found  that, 
notwithstanding  his  approbation  of  the  Government  policy,  he 
was  going  to  vote  for  the  amendment.  What  surprised  me 
more  than  anything  was  the  reason  he  gave  for  it,  and  that 
was  because  we  did  not  go  to  war  with  Russia.  The  noble 
lord  said,  '  If  you  acted  logically  and  properly  you  ought 


THE   AFGHAN   WAE,   DECEMBEK   1878.  247 

to  have  gone  to  war  with  Russia,  and  therefore  I  must  vote 
for  the  amendment.'  'You  ought  not  only  to  have  gone 
to  war  with  Kussia,  but  in  regard  to  Afghanistan  you  ought 
to  have  treated  the  Ameer  with  more  courtesy  and  kindness. 
You  ought  to  have  made  appeals  to  him  and  taken  every  step 
which  might  gain  his  consideration  and  influence  his  policy.' 
My  lords,  that  is  the  course  which  we  have  pursued.  Eeally, 
the  Ameer  of  Afghanistan  has  been  treated  like  a  spoiled  child. 
He  has  had  messages  sent  to  him,  he  has  had  messengers 
offered  to  him.  He  has  sent  messengers  to  us  who  have  been 
courteously  received.  We  have  written  him  letters,  some  of 
which  he  has  not  answered,  and  others  he  has  answered  with 
unkindness.  What  more  could  we  do  ?  Yet  the  noble  earl  is 
going  to  vote  against  the  Government,  because  with,  we  think, 
an  imperfect  conception  of  our  conduct,  he  says  we  have 
behaved  harshly  to  the  Ameer,  and  not  taken  the  proper  course 
of  behaving  hostilely  to  Russia.  But,  then,  remember  Russia 
has  taken  every  step  in  this  business  so  as  to  make  honourable 
amends  to  England,  and  her  conduct  presents  the  most  striking 
contrast  to  that  furnished  by  the  Ameer. 

Then  there  was  another  point  which  at  this  late  hour  of 
the  night  I  cannot  dwell  upon,  but  which  I  will  notice,  because 
it  has  been  treated  with  great  misconception.  It  refers  to  the 
financial  part  of  the  question — to  the  expenses.  My  noble 
friend  on  the  cross  benches  has  no  confidence  in  our  finance. 
He  recalls  the  instance  of  the  Abyssinian  invasion,  and  he 
says  that  there  was  an  estimate  of  3,000,000£.,  and  it  turned 
out  to  be  9,000,000£.  My  noble  friend  ought  to  be  well 
informed  on  that  subject,  because  it  was  at  his  instance  and 
by  his  advice  that  we  made  war  upon  Abyssinia.  I  believe 
better  advice  was  never  given ;  a  more  necessary  war  was  never 
made ;  but  when  that  war  took  place  it  unfortunately  occurred 
very  late  in  the  season,  and  the  cabinet  were  of  opinion  and 
were  informed  by  those  who  were  competent  to  advise  them  in 
such  matters  that  the  affair  could  not  be  finished  in  one  cam- 
paign. But  information  reached  the  Grovernment  which  con- 
vinced them  that  by  great  exertions  and  expense  it  might 
be  concluded  in  one  campaign,  and  we  did  not  hesitate  to  incur 


248  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

that  expense,  which  amounted  to  a  very  large  sum,  and  which 
was  chiefly  spent  in  obtaining  means  of  transport.  But  it  was 
through  that  expenditure  that  Lord  Napier,  in  addition  to  his 
great  qualities  and  skill,  was  enabled  to  conclude  the  Abyssinian 
War  in  one  campaign.  If  you  had  had  two  campaigns,  you 
would  have  spent  not  9,000,OOOL,  but  more.  In  the  second 
campaign  you  might  have  had  a  very  bad  season,  instead  of  the 
very  fine  season  that  we  had  ;  and  you  might,  instead  of  savages, 
have  found  European  officers  who  would  have  assisted  them 
in  resisting  their  enemy.  But,  instead  of  that,  Lord  Napier 
conducted  the  one  campaign  to  a  successful  issue  without,  I 
believe,  the  loss  of  a  single  life. 

Well,  my  lords,  the  question  is,  What  is  the  course  we 
ought  to  take  at  the  present  moment  ?  I  was  in  hopes,  after 
the  debate  the  other  night,  in  which  no  one  interfered  with 
those  members  of  your  lordships'  House  whose  conduct  was 
implicated  in  the  various  Blue-books  on  the  table,  that  we 
might  have  discussed  the  political  character  of  the  question 
much  more  fully  than  we  have  done,  and  that  we  should  not 
be  again  lost  in  a  series  of  what  I  must  call  wrangles  about 
the  conduct  of  ministers  who  are  in  office  and  who  are  out. 
If  the  noble  viscount  who  has  just  sat  down  is  satisfied  with 
the  triumphant  speech  of  the  late  Viceroy  of  India,  as  he 
describes  it,  I  can  only  say  that  it  is  not  a  speech  which  will 
give  to  the  people  of  England  that  knowledge  which  is  desir- 
able, and  which  they  wish  to  have,  of  the  great  question  at 
issue.  If  I  am  to  sum  up  the  three  nights'  debate  which  we 
virtually  have  had  upon  this  matter,  I  should  say  it  must  be 
summed  up  in  a  sentence,  so  far  as  the  discussions  have  gone. 
We  have  done  something  which  in  theory  you  approve,  and 
which,  if  England  had  acted  in  time,  you  would  have  done  your- 
selves. In  a  despatch  of  the  noble  Viceroy  who  addressed  us 
at  such  length  this  evening  your  lordships  will  find  this  state- 
ment. His  Government  is  alarmed  by  an  account  that  the 
Eussians  are  going  to  occupy  Merv,  and  what  is  proposed  is 
this  :  He  proposes  that  we  should  make — I  do  not  know  that  it 
was  not  to  be  an  offensive  and  defensive  alliance,  but  certainly 
a  defensive  alliance  with  Afghanistan,  and  that  English  officers 


THE  AFGHAN   WAE,   DECEMBEE   1878.  249 

should  be  immediately  admitted  to  Herat.     What  is  the  differ- 
ence  

Lord  Northbrook :  I  never  made  any  such  proposal. 

The  Earl  of  Beaconsfield :  I  am  sorry  that  the  noble  lord  is 
in  the  habit  of  contradicting  without  appealing  to  documents. 
I  can  give  the  date  to  the  noble  lord.  He  will  find  it  in  June, 
1875.  The  despatch  says,  '  Much  discussion  has  recently  taken 
place  as  to  the  effect  that  would  be  produced  by  a  Russian 
advance  to  Merv.  We  have  before  stated  to  Her  Majesty's 
Government  our  apprehension  that  the  assumption  by  Russia 
of  authority  over  the  whole  Turcoman  country  would  create 
alarm  in  Afghanistan,  and  we  think  it  desirable  to  express  our 
opinion  of  the  course  which  should  be  adopted  if  it  should 
take  place.'  Here  it  is  :  '  It  would  then  become  necessary  to 
give  additional  and  more  specific  assurances  to  the  ruler  of 
Afghanistan  that  we  are  prepared  to  assist  him  to  defend 
Afghanistan  against  attack  from  without.'  *  It  would  probably 
be  desirable  to  enter  into  a  treaty  engagement  with  him,' — not 
merely  an  assurance,  but  *  a  treaty  engagement  with  him ;  and 
the  establishment  of  a  British  resident  in  Herat  would  be  the 
natural  consequence  of  such  an  engagement  and  of  the  nearer 
approach  of  the  Russian  frontier.'  I  appeal  to  your  lordships 
whether  this  quotation  does  not  entirely  substantiate  my  state- 
ment as  to  the  policy  of  the  noble  earl,  and  whether  my  sum- 
mary comparison  between  the  policy  of  the  late  Viceroy  and  our 
own  is  not  correct.  I  have  no  objection  at  any  time  to  be 
interrupted,  and  the  only  reason  why  I  regret  it  now  is  that  it 
will  add  to  the  few  moments  during  which  I  shall  have  to 
trouble  you. 

I  received  yesterday  a  communication  from  Lord  Napier  of 
Magdala,  who  could  not  arrive  in  time  to  take  part  in  this  de- 
bate. He  says,  <  Afghanistan,  if  in  the  hands  of  a  hostile  Power, 
may  at  any  time  deal  a  fatal  blow  to  our  Empire.  We  .cannot 
remain  on  the  defensive  without  a  ruinous  drain  on  our  re- 
sources. Our  frontier  is  weak ;  an  advanced  position  is  neces- 
sary for  our  safety.'  When  I  am  told  that  no  military  authority 
justifies  Her  Majesty's  Government,  I  can  appeal  with  confidence 
to  one  who,  I  believe,  must  rank  among  the  very  highest 


250  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

military  authorities.  I  will  not  detain  your  lordships,  because  it 
is  impossible,  in  your  exhausted  state,  having  met  at  an  extra- 
ordinarily early  hour  to-day,  to  enter  into  any  great  discussion. 
What  I  want  to  impress  on  your  lordships  before  you  divide — 
which  you  will  do  in  a  very  few  minutes — is  that  you  should  not 
misapprehend  the  issue  on  which  you  have  to  decide.  It  is  a 
very  grave  one.  It  is  not  a  question  of  the  Khyber  Pass  merely 
and  of  some  small  cantonments  at  Dakka  or  at  Jellalabad.  It 
is  a  question  which  concerns  the  character  and  the  influence  of 
England  in  Europe.  And  your  conduct  to-day  will  animate 
this  country  and  encourage  Europe,  if  it  be  such  as  I  would 
fain  believe  you  are  determined  to  accomplish. 

My  lords,  I  object  entirely  to  this  amendment  of  the  noble 
lord.  It  is  an  absurd  position  almost  in  which  to  put  the  House 
of  Lords  to  come  down  and  appeal  to  them  to  stop  the  supplies 
to  Her  Majesty.  If  the  amendment  is  substituted  for  our 
original  motion,  that  would  be  the  inevitable  result.  I  cannot 
believe  that  many  noble  lords  opposite,  when  they  accurately 
understand  the  issue  which  is  before  them,  can  sanction  such  a 
course.  They  can  scarcely  have  been  conscious  of  the  dangerous 
precipice  to  which  the  noble  viscount,  the  mover  of  the  amend- 
ment, was  leading  them.  We  have  seen  in  this  debate  an 
indignant  spirit  hostile  to  these  tactics  evinced  by  some  of  the 
most  eminent  members  of  the  party.  The  speech  of  the  noble 
duke,1  which  was  hailed  from  both  sides  of  the  House,  was  one 
which  expressed  the  sentiments  which  I  am  sure  the  great 
majority  must  feel.  What  I  see  in  the  amendment  is  not  an 
assertion  of  great  principles,  which  no  man  honours  more  than 
myself.  What  is  at  the  bottom  of  it  is  rather  that  principle  of 
peace  at  any  price  which  a  certain  party  in  this  country  upholds. 
It  is  that  dangerous  dogma  which  I  believe  animates  the  ranks 
before  me  at  this  moment,  although  many  of  them  may  be  uncon- 
scious of  it.  That  deleterious  doctrine  haunts  the  people  of  this 
country  in  every  form.  Sometimes  it  is  a  committee ;  sometimes 
it  is  a  letter ;  sometimes  it  is  an  amendment  to  the  Address  ; 
sometimes  it  is  a  proposition  to  stop  the  supplies.  That  doctrine 
has  done  more  mischief  than  any  I  can  well  recall  that  have 
1  The  Duke  of  Somerset. 


THE  AFGHAN   WAR,  DECEMBEK   1878.  251 

been  afloat  in  this  century.  It  has  occasioned  more  wars  than 
the  most  ruthless  conquerors.  It  has  disturbed  and  nearly 
destroyed  that  political  equilibrium  so  necessary  to  the  liberties 
of  nations  and  the  welfare  of  the  world.  It  has  dimmed  occa- 
sionally for  a  moment  even  the  majesty  of  England.  And,  my 
lords,  to-night  you  have  an  opportunity,  which  I  trust  you  will 
not  lose,  of  branding  these  opinions,  these  deleterious  dogmas, 
with  the  reprobation  of  the  Peers  of  England. 


252  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


WAR  IN   SOUTH   AFRICA.     March  26,  1879. 

[The  following  speech  was  delivered  on  the  occasion  of  a  Reso- 
lution proposed  by  the  Marquis  of  Lansdown  to  the  effect  '  That 
this  House,  while  willing  to  support  Her  Majesty's  Government  in 
all  necessary  measures  for  defending  the  possessions  of  Her  Majesty  in 
South  Africa,  regrets  that  the  ultimatum,  which  was  calculated  to 
produce  immediate  war,  should  have  been  presented  to  the  Zulu  King 
without  authority  from  the  responsible  advisers  of  the  Crown,  and 
that  an  offensive  war  should  have  been  commenced  without  imperative 
and  pressing  necessity  or  adequate  preparation ;  and  the  Hotise  regrets 
that,  after  the  censure  passed  upon  the  High  Commissioner  by  Her 
Majesty's  Government  in  the  despatch  of  March  19,  1879,  the  conduct 
of  affairs  in  South  Africa  should  be  retained  in  his  hands.'  The 
motion  was  negatived  by  a  majority  of  95 — the  '  contents '  being  61, 
the  'non-contents'  156.] 

TIHE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD,— I  generally  find  there 
is  one  advantage  at  the  end  of  a  debate  besides  the 
relief  which  is  afforded  by  its  termination,  and  that  is  that  both 
sides  of  the  House  seem  pretty  well  agreed  as  to  the  particular 
point  that  really  is  at  issue  ;  but  the  rich  humour  of  the  noble 
duke l  has  again  diverted  us  from  the  consideration  of  the  motion 
really  before  the  House.  If  the  noble  duke  and  his  friends 
were  desirous  of  knowing  what  was  the  policy  which  Her 
Majesty's  Government  were  prepared  generally  to  pursue  in 
South  Africa,  if  they  were  prepared  to  challenge  the  policy  of 
Sir  Bartle  Frere  in  all  its  details,  I  should  have  thought  they 
would  have  produced  a  very  different  motion  from  that  which 
is  now  lying  on  your  lordships'  table  ;  for  that  is  a  motion  of 
a  most  limited  character,  and,  according  to  the  strict  rules  of 
parliamentary  discussion,  precludes  you  from  most  of  the  sub- 
jects which  have  lately  been  introduced  to  our  consideration, 
and  which  principally  have  emanated  from  noble  lords  oppo- 
1  The  Duke  of  Somerset. 


WAE  IN  SOUTH  AFRICA,  MARCH   1879.  253 

site.  We  have  not  been  summoned  here  to-day  to  consider 
the  policy  of  the  acquisition  of  the  Transvaal.  These  are  sub- 
jects on  which  I  am  sure  the  Government  would  be  prepared 
to  address  your  lordships  if  their  conduct  were  clearly  and  fairly 
impugned.  And  with  regard  to  the  annexation  of  the  province, 
which  has  certainly  very  much  filled  the  mouths  of  men  of  late, 
I  can  easily  conceive  that  that  would  have  been  a  subject  for 
fair  discussion  in  this  House,  and  we  should  have  heard,  as  we 
have  heard  to-night,  though  in  a  manner  somewhat  unexpected, 
from  the  nature  of  the  resolution  before  us,  from  the  noble  lord 
who  was  recently  the  Secretary  of  State  for  the  Colonies,  the 
principal  reasons  which  induced  the  Government  to  sanction 
that  policy — a  policy  which  I  believe  can  be  defended,  but 
which  has  not  been  impugned  to-night  in  any  formal  manner. 

What  has  been  impugned  to-night  is  the  conduct  of  the 
Government  in  sanctioning,  not  the  policy  of  Sir  Bartle  Frere, 
but  his  taking  a  most  important  step  without  consulting  them, 
which  on  such  a  subject  is  the  usual  practice  with  all  Govern- 
ments. But  the  noble  lord  opposite  who  introduced  the  sub- 
ject does  not  even  impugn  the  policy  of  the  Lord  High  Com- 
missioner, and  it  was  left  for  the  noble  duke  who  has  just 
addressed  us,  and  who  ought  to  have  brought  forward  this 
question  if  his  views  are  so  strongly  entertained  by  him  on  the 
matter,  not  in  supporting  a  resolution  such  as  now  lies  on  your 
lordships'  table,  but  one  which  would  have  involved  a  discussion 
of  the  policy  of  the  Government  and  that  of  the  high  officer 
who  is  particularly  interested  in  it. 

My  noble  friend  the  noble  marquis l  who  very  recently 
addressed  the  House  touched  the  real  question  which  is  before 
us,  and  it  is  a  very  important  question,  although  it  is  not  of 
the  expansive  character  of  the  one  which  would  have  been  jus- 
tified by  the  comments  of  noble  lords  opposite.  What  we  have 
to  decide  to-night  is  this — whether  Her  Majesty's  Government 
shall  have  the  power  of  recommending  to  the  Sovereign  the 
employment  of  a  high  officer  to  fulfil  duties  of  the  utmost 
importance,  or  whether  that  exercise  of  the  prerogative  on 
their  advice  shall  be  successfully  impugned  and  that  appoint- 
1  Lord  Salisbury. 


254  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ment  superseded  by  noble  lords  opposite.  That  course  is 
perfectly  constitutional  if  they  are  prepared  to  take  the  con- 
sequences. But  let  it  be  understood  what  the  issue  is.  It  is 
this, — that  a  censure  upon  the  Government  is  called  for  because 
they  have  selected  the  individual  who  on  the  whole  they  think 
is  the  best  qualified  successfully  to  fulfil  the  duties  of  High 
Commissioner.  The  noble  lords  opposite  make  that  proposition ; 
and  if  they  succeed  they  will  succeed  in  that  which  has  hitherto 
been  considered  one  of  the  most  difficult  tasks  of  the  Executive 
Government — that  is  to  say,  they  will  supersede  the  individual 
whom  the  Sovereign,  in  the  exercise  of  her  prerogative,  under 
the  advice  of  her  ministers,  has  selected  for  an  important  post. 
I  cannot  agree  in  the  general  remark  made  by  the  noble  duke 
that  because  an  individual  has  committed  an  error,  and  even  a 
considerable  error,  for  that  reason,  without  any  reference  either 
to  his  past,  services  or  his  present  qualifications,  immediately  a 
change  should  be  recommended  and  he  should  be  recalled  from 
the  scene  of  his  duties. 

I  remember  myself  a  case  not  altogether  different  from  the 
present  one.  It  happened  some  years  ago  when  I  sat  in  the 
other  House.  Then  a  very  high  official — a  diplomatist  of  great 
eminence  —a  member  of  the  Liberal  party — had  committed 
what  was  deemed  a  great  indiscretion,  and  was  deemed  a  great 
indiscretion  by  several  members  of  his  own  party;  and  the 
Government  were  asked  in  a  formal  manner  by  a  Liberal 
member  whether  that  distinguished  diplomatist  had  been  in 
consequence  recalled.  But  the  person  who  was  then  responsible 
for  the  conduct  of  public  affairs  in  that  House — the  humble 
individual  who  is  now  addressing  your  lordships — made  this 
answer  with  the  full  concurrence  of  his  colleagues — denied  that 
that  distinguished  diplomatist  was  recalled,  and  said  that  great 
services  are  not  cancelled  by  one  act  or  one  single  error, 
however  it  may  be  regretted,  at  the  moment.  That  is  what  I 
said  then  with  regard  to  Sir  James  Hudson,1  and  what  I  say  now 
with  regard  to  Sir  Bartle  Frere.  But  I  do  not  wish  to  rest  on 
that.  I  confess  that,  so  keen  is  my  sense  of  responsibility  and 

1  Sir  James  Hudson  was  minister  at  Turin  from  1852  to  1863,  and  was 
thought  to  have  expressed  himself  indiscreetly  on  the  question  of  Italian 
nationality. 


WAK  IN   SOUTH   AFKICA,   MAUCH   1879.  255 

that  of  my  colleagues,  and  I  am  sure  also  that  of  noble  lords 
opposite,  that  we  would  not  allow  our  decisions  in  such  matters 
to  be  unduly  influenced  by  personal  considerations  of  any  kind. 
What  we  had  to  determine  is  this,  Was  it  wise  that  such  an 
act  on  the  part  of  Sir  Bartle  Frere  as,  in  fact,  commencing  war 
without  consulting  the  Government  at  home,  and  without  their 
sanction,  should  be  passed  unnoticed  ?  Ought  it  not  to  be 
noticed  in  a  manner  which  should  convey  to  that  eminent 
person  a  clear  conviction  of  the  feelings  of  Her  Majesty's 
Government ;  and  at  the  same  time  was  it  not  their  duty  to 
consider,  were  he  superseded,  whether  they  could  place  in  his 
position  an  individual  equally  qualified  to  fulfil  the  great  duties 
and  responsibility  resting  on  him  ?  That  is  what  we  had  to 
consider.  We  considered  it  entirely  with  reference  to  the  public 
interest,  and  the  public  interest  alone,  and  we  arrived  at  a  con- 
viction that  on  the  whole  the  retention  of  Sir  Bartle  Frere  in  that 
position  was  our  duty,  notwithstanding  the  inconvenient  observa- 
tions and  criticisms  to  which  we  were,  of  course,  conscious  it 
might  subject  us ;  and,  that  being  our  conviction,  we  have  acted 
upon  it. 

It  is  a  very  easy  thing  for  a  Government  to  make  a  scape- 
goat; but  that  is  conduct  which  I  hope  no  gentleman  on 
this  side,  and  I  believe  no  gentleman  sitting  opposite,  would 
easily  adopt.  If  Sir  Bartle  Frere  had  been  recalled — if  he  had 
been  recalled  in  deference  to  the  panic,  the  thoughtless  panic, 
of  the  hour,  in  deference  to  those  who  have  no  responsibility  in 
the  matter,  and  who  have  not  weighed  well  and  deeply  investi- 
gated all  the  circumstances  and  all  the  arguments  which  can 
be  brought  forward,  and  which  must  be  appealed  to  to  influence 
our  opinions  on  such  questions — no  doubt  a  certain  degree  of 
odium  might  have  been  diverted  from  the  heads  of  Her 
Majesty's  ministers,  and  the  world  would  have  been  delighted, 
as  it  always  is,  to  find  a  victim.  That  was  not  the  course  which 
we  pursued,  and  it  is  one  which  I  trust  no  British  Government 
ever  will  pursue.  We  had  but  one  object  in  view,  and  that  was 
to  take  care  that  at  this  most  critical  period  the  affairs  of  Her 
Majesty  in  South  Africa  should  be  directed  by  one  not  only 
qualified  to  direct  them,  but  who  was  superior  to  any  other 


256  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

individual  whom  we  could  have  selected  for  that  purpose.  The 
sole  question  that  we  really  have  to  decide  to-night  is — Was 
it  the  duty  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  to  recall  Sir  Bartle 
Frere  in  consequence  of  his  having  declared  war  without  our 
consent  ?  We  did  not  think  it  our  duty  to  take  that  course, 
and  we  do  not  think  it  our  duty  to  take  that  course  now. 
Whether  we  are  right  in  the  determination  at  which  we  have 
arrived  is  the  sole  question  which  the  House  has  to  determine 
upon  the  motion  before  it. 

The  noble  duke  opposite  *  has  told  us  that  he  should  not 
be  contented  without  being  made  acquainted  with  the  whole 
policy  which  Her  Majesty's  Government  are  prepared  to  pursue 
in  South  Africa.  If  the  noble  duke  will  introduce  that  subject 
we  shall  be  happy  to  discuss  it  with  him.  No  one  could  in- 
troduce it  in  a  more  interesting,  and,  indeed,  in  a  more  enter- 
taining manner  than  the  noble  duke,  who  possesses  that 
sarcastic  facility  that  so  well  qualifies  him  to  express  his 
opinion  on  such  a  matter.  I  think,  however,  that  we  ought 
to  have  had  rather  longer  notice  before  we  were  called  upon  to 
discuss  so  large  a  theme  which  has  now  been  brought  suddenly 
before  us.  If  the  noble  marquis  who  introduced  this  subject 
had  given  us  notice  of  a  motion  of  this  character  we  should  not 
have  hesitated  for  a  moment  to  meet  it.  I  have,  however,  no 
desire  to  avoid  discussing  the  subject  of  our  future  policy  in 
South  Africa,  even  on  so  general  a  notice  as  we  have  received 
in  reference  to  it  from  the  noble  duke.  Sir  Bartle  Frere  was 
selected  by  the  noble  lord 2  who  formerly  occupied  the  position 
of  Secretary  for  the  Colonies  chiefly  to  secure  one  great  end — 
namely,  to  carry  out  that  policy  of  confederation  in  South 
Africa  which  the  noble  lord  had  successfully  carried  out  on  a 
previous  occasion  with  regard  to  the  North  American  Colonies. 

If  there  is  any  policy  which  in  my  mind  is  opposed  to  the 
policy  of  annexation  it  is  that  of  confederation.  By  pursuing 
the  policy  of  confederation  we  bind  States  together,  we  consoli- 
date their  resources,  and  we  enable  them  to  establish  a  strong 
frontier,  and  where  we  have  a  strong  frontier  that  is  the  best 
security  against  annexation.  I  myself  regard  a  policy  of  annex- 
1  The  Duke  of  Somerset.  2  Lord  Carnarvon. 


WAE  IN  SOUTH  AFEICA,   MARCH    1879.  257 

ation  with  great  distrust.  I  believe  that  the  reasons  of  State 
which  induced  us  to  annex  the  Transvaal  were  not,  on  the 
whole,  perfectly  sound.  But  what  were  the  circumstances  under 
which  that  annexation  was  effected.  The  Transvaal  was  a 
territory  which  was  no  longer  defended  by  its  occupiers.  The 
noble  lord  opposite,1  who  formerly  had  the  colonies  under  his 
management,  spoke  of  the  conduct  of  Sir  Theophilus  Shepstone 
as  though  he  had  not  taken  due  precautions  to  effect  the 
annexation  of  that  province,  and  said  that  he  was  not  justified 
in  concealing  that  he  had  not  successfully  consummated  his 
object.  The  noble  lord  said  that  he  had  not  assembled  troops 
enough  in  the  province  to  carry  out  properly  the  policy  of 
annexation.  But  Sir  Theophilus  Shepstone  particularly  refers 
to  the  very  fact  to  show  that  so  unanimous  and  so  united  was 
the  sentiment  in  the  province  in  favour  of  annexation  that  it 
was  unnecessary  to  send  any  large  force  there  to  bring  it  about. 
The  annexation  of  that  province  was  a  necessity — a  geographical 
necessity. 

But  the  annexation  of  the  Transvaal  was  one  of  the  reasons 
why  those  who  were  connected  with  that  province  might  have 
calculated  upon  the  permanent  existence  of  Zululand  as  an 
independent  State.  I  know  it  is  said  that  when  we  are  at 
war,  as  we  unfortunately  now  are,  with  the  Zulus  or  any  other 
savage  nation,  even  though  we  inflicted  upon  them  some  great 
disaster  and  might  effect  an  arrangement  with  them  of  a 
peaceable  character,  before  long  the  same  Power  would  again 
attack  us  unless  we  annexed  the  territory.  I  have  never  con- 
sidered that  a  legitimate  argument  in  favour  of  annexation  of 
a  barbarous  country.  It  is  very  true  that  if  we  defeated  the 
Zulus  to-morrow,  as  I  trust  that  we  shall  shortly  in  a  very  signifi- 
cant manner,  in  a  few  years  another  war  may  break  out  between 
ourselves  and  them.  But  similar  results  might  occur  in  Europe 
if  we  went  to  war  with  one  of  our  neighbours,  as  we  unfor- 
tunately have  done  on  previous  occasions ;  and  even  if  we 
defeated  our  neighbours,  when  their  resources  revived,  when 
their  population  increased,  and  when  they  had  improved  their 
arms  of  precision,  it  would  be  very  likely  that  they  might 

1  Lord  Kimberley. 
VOL.   II.  S 


258  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

seize  a  favourable  opportunity  to  go  to  war  with  us  again.  But 
is  that  an  argument  why  we  should  not  hold  our  hand  until  we 
have  completely  crushed  our  adversary,  and  is  that  any  reason 
why  we  should  pursue  a  policy  of  extermination  with  regard  to 
a  barbarous  nation  with  whom  we  happen  to  be  at  war  ?  That 
is  a  policy  which  I  hope  will  never  be  sanctioned  by  this 
House. 

It  is,  of  course,  possible  that  we  may  again  be  involved  in 
war  with  the  Zulus,  but  it  is  an  equal  chance  that  in  the  deve- 
lopment of  circumstances  in  that  part  of  the  world  the  Zulu 
people  may  have  to  invoke  the  aid  and  the  alliance  of  England, 
against  some  other  people,  and  that  the  policy  dictated  by 
feelings  and  influences  which  have  regulated  our  conduct  with 
regard  to  European  States  may  be  successfully  pursued  with 
regard  to  less  civilised  nations  in  a  different  part  of  the  world 
This  is  the  policy  of  Her  Majesty's  Government,  and  there- 
fore they  cannot  be  in  favour  of  a  policy  of  annexation,  be- 
cause it  is  directly  opposed  to  it.  I  will  not  enter  into  any 
minute  discussion  of  the  various  questions  which  by  means 
of  their  association  with  the  main  question  have  been  im- 
ported into  the  debate.  They  have  really  nothing  to  do  with 
the  single  issue  that  is  now  before  your  lordships,  and  upon 
which  in  a  very  short  time  you  will  record  your  opinion.  It  is- 
not  the  policy  of  England  with  regard  to  South  Africa  now 
for  some  years  past  that  is  called  in  question.  Different- 
cabinets  and  different  schools  of  political  opinion  are  equally 
interested  in  maintaining  that  policy.  It  is  not,  in  fact,  the 
annexation  of  the  Transvaal  province  upon  which  you  are  now 
called  to  decide.  It  is  not,  in  fact,  any  of  the  matters  that 
have  been  treated  in  detail  to-night,  but  which  really  do  not 
branch  out  of  the  resolution  which  is  on  the  table,  and  to  which 
if  their  correctness  is  questioned  the  noble  lord  will  have  a 
legitimate  opportunity  of  calling  your  lordships'  attention. 

The  question  we  have  before  us  now  is  whether  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  have  acted  with  policy  in  retaining  the  services  of 
Sir  Bartle  Frere  in  the  circumstances  in  which  they  have  been 
retained.  On  the  part  of  the  Government,  I  give  my  opinion 
here  publicly  that  in  taking  that  course  we  took  one  for  the 


WAR  IN  SOUTH  AFEICA,  MARCH   1879. 


259 


public  welfare ;  that  we  were  influenced  by  no  personal  con- 
siderations ;  that  we  were  influenced  by  none  of  those  feelings 
which  it  is  difficult  for  even  honourable  men  when  they  find 
a  distinguished  public  officer  in  difficulty  or  disgrace  to  be  free 
from ;  that  we  divested  ourselves  from  any  other  sentiment 
but  doing  that  which  in  a  most  difficult  state  of  affairs  was  for 
the  public  advantage.  And  if  you  wish  the  public  advantage 
to  be  first  considered,  and  not  the  triumph  of  a  party,  you  will 
to-night  give  your  decided  negative  to  the  motion  of  the  noble 
marquis. 


s2 


260  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


EVACUATION  OF   CANDAHAR.     March  4,  1881. 

[One  of  the  first  acts  of  the  new  Government  which  acceded  to 
power  in  April  1880  was  to  make  preparations  for  relinquishing  the 
positions  in  Afghanistan  which  we  had  acquired  by  the  war  of  1879. 
It  was  still  hoped,  however,  that  they  meant  to  retain  Candahar,  a 
fortress  commanding  the  only  route  by  which  an  invading  army 
could  approach  India.  When  it  was  found  that  this  was  not  the 
case,  and  that  Candahar,  too,  was  to  be  abandoned,  Lord  Lytton,  on 
March  3,  brought  forward  a  motion  in  the  House  of  Lords  to  the 
effect  that  there  was  nothing  in  the  information  laid  before  their 
lordships  to  justify  the  abandonment  of  Candahar.  After  two  nights' 
debate  the  Resolution  was  carried  by  a  majority  of  89,  the  '  contents ' 
being  165,  the  '  non-contents '  76.  The  speeches  of  Lord  Lytton  and 
the  Marquis  of  Salisbury,  taken  together  with  Lord  Beaconsfield's,  com- 
plete the  case  of  the  Opposition.  It  was  to  this  speech  that  Lord 
Granville  referred  in  his  graceful  tribute  to  the  memory  of  Lord 
Beaconsfield  when  he  said  he  had  seen  him  swallow  drugs  to  allay 
the  pain  from  which  he  suffered  in  order  that  he  might  be  able  to 
place  his  views  before  their  lordships'  House.] 

THE  question  really  before  your  lordships  is  whether  it  is  or 
is  not  wise  to  evacuate  Candahar,  and  I  shall  endeavour  to 
•confine  my  observations  strictly  to  that  subject,  or  at  least  with 
one  exception  of  a  very  slight  character.  I  see  no  use  in  review- 
ing again  the  history  of  the  Afghan  war  or  of  the  proceedings 
which  preceded  it.  Your  lordships,  having  been  appealed  to 
on  that  subject,  have  given  your  opinion  in  great  numbers  and 
after  long  and  deep  discussion.  It  would,  therefore,  in  my 
opinion  be  unnecessary  for  me  now  to  enter  upon  a  considera- 
tion of  that  matter  in  detail.  There  are  one  or  two  salient 
facts  to  guide  us  in  coming  to  a  conclusion  on  this  matter,  and 
which  it  occurs  to  me  to  allude  to  at  this  moment,  owing  to 
the  tone  which  the  debate  has  taken.  It  is  on  record  that  the 
Ameer  of  Afghanistan  appealed  for  succour  some  years  ago  to 


EVACUATION   OF  CANDAHAR,   MARCH   1881.  261 

the  Viceroy  of  the  Queen  in  India,  who  is  now  First  Lord  of 
the  Admiralty,  and  the  Viceroy  thought  it  his  duty  to  reject 
the  overtures  made  to  him.  It  also  stands  upon  record  that 
this  rejection  was  the  origin  of  all  the  misunderstandings  and 
misfortunes  which  have  since  occurred.  It  also  stands  upon 
record  that  about  three  years  afterwards,  panic-stricken,  I 
suppose,  by  the  rumour  that  the  Kussians  were  approaching 
Merv,  the  then  Viceroy  decided  on  the  plan  which,  in  his 
opinion,  should  be  then  adopted  to  meet  the  difficulties  and 
dangers  of  such  a  proceeding,  and  he  proposed  an  offensive  and 
defensive  treaty  in  Afghanistan,  and  the  establishment  of  a 
resident  minister  on  the  British  side  of  Herat.  These  are  great 
salient  truths,  and  I  must  say  that  I  am  quite  sui-prised, 
remembering  these  historical  facts,  at  the  tone  which  the  noble 
lord  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  took  with  reference  to  my 
noble  friend  the  late  Viceroy  of  India.  One  would  suppose 
that  the  noble  earl  was  not  only  a  pupil  of  the  peace  at  any 
price  school,  but  that  he  was  also  graduating  for  higher 
honours  in  the  more  refined  school  which  would  wage  war  and 
at  the  same  time  negotiate,  more  especially  if  our  arms  had 
been  defeated.  I  was  very  much  disappointed,  my  lords,  at 
the  reply  the  noble  duke  the  Lord  Privy  Seal  made  to  my 
noble  friend  near  me.  I  had  listened,  as  a  very  full  House  had 
listened,  with  pleasure  to  that  speech,  and  a  speech  more 
exhaustive,  more  animated,  more  completely  touching  everv 
point  of  the  subject  I  have  rarely  heard.  Well,  I  knew  that 
my  noble  friend  was  to  be  followed  by  one  whose  ability  was 
equal  to  any  emergency — one  who  is  an  ornament  of  this 
House,  and  invariably  delights  the  audience  which  he  addresses. 
Well,  my  lords,  what  did  we  hear  ?  Was  there  any  answer  to 
the  speech  of  my  noble  friend  ?  On  the  contrary,  we  had  a 
series  of  biographies  of  Indian  worthies,  and  when  the  list 
closed  it  was,  as  usual,  flung  at  the  head  of  my  noble  friend  the 
late  Viceroy.  Under  these  circumstances  I  think  we  have 
had  enough  of  recurrence  to  the  past,  and  that  we  may  confine 
our  consideration  to  the  point  before  us. 

My  lords,  there  is  one  point  only,  before  I  touch  upon  the 
question  of  Candahar,  on  which  I  would  like  to  make  one  or 


262  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

two  remarks,  and  that  is  about  our  relations  with  Russia,  which 
have  formed  so  important  a  portion  of  our  discussion  to-night 
as   on   previous    occasions.     Now,  my   lords,  when   my  noble 
friend  and  myself  were  commissioned  to  proceed  as  plenipoten- 
tiaries to    Berlin  nearly  three  years  ago,  our  instructions  were 
to  achieve,  if  possible,  two  great  objects.     One,  of  course,  to 
secure  and  guard  the  interests  of  our  own  country,  and  the 
other  to  combine  with  the  other  Powers  if  possible  for  some 
general  arrangement  or  some  unity  of  feeling  which   might 
secure,  if  not  the  perpetual,  at  least  the  lasting,  peace  of  Europe. 
Well,  my  lords,  when  we  came  to  consider  our  interests  in  this 
subject  it  was  quite  obvious  that  it  was  quite  impossible  to 
arrive  at  any  arrangement  which  would  give  a  fair  probability 
of  a  lasting  European  peace  if  there  was  not  sympathy  on  the 
part  of  Eussia,  and  the  time  seemed  to  have  arrived,  when  a 
Congress  was  called  upon  to  settle  the  affairs  of  Europe,  to 
make  some  efforts  to  come,  if  possible,  to  some  direct  under- 
standing with  Russia  which  might  tend  to  the  beneficial  results 
we  had  in  view. 

I  must  say  that  before  we  could  take  any  steps  we  were 
anticipated  by  the  illustrious  Chancellor  of  that  Empire,  who 
expressed  a  desire  on  the  part  of  Russia  that  some  attempt 
should  be  made  to  put  an  end  to  that  chronic  misunderstanding 
which  seemed  always  to  be  recurring  between  the  two  countries 
of  Great  Britain  and  Russia.  I  do  not,  my  lords,  mean  to  say 
that  there  was  at  any  time  an  intention  of  an  alliance  or  a 
treaty,  or  a  convention,  but  what  we  all  seemed  to  desire  was 
that,  if  possible,  instead  of  hostile  distrust,  there  should  be,  at 
least,  some  approximation  to  confidence,  and  that  when  any 
occurrences  of  a  controversial  character  took  place  in  those 
parts  of  the  world  where  the  interests  of  Russia  and  Englanc 
clashed,  there  should  be,  at  least,  a  friendly  and  candid  com- 
munication of  views  between  the  two  Powers  which  might 
remove  causes  which  were  not  at  all  adequate  reasons  for  mis 
understanding.  Well,  my  lords,  when  we  returned  to  Englan( 
I  think  I  expressed  the  sentiments  which  my  noble  colleague 
would  have  expressed  on  this  matter.  I  took  the  earliest 
opportunity  of  declaring  in  this  House  that  those  circumstances 


EVACUATION  OF   CANDAHAE,   MAECH   1881.  263 

which  had  occurred  in  Central  Asia  with  reference  to  efforts  of 
Kussia  the  avowed  object  of  which  was  to  embarrass  and  disturb 
English  interests  in  that  part  of  the  world — I  say  I  took  the 
earliest  opportunity  of  announcing  in  this  House  that,  so  far  as 
those  preparations  had  been  made  by  Eussia  with  the  belief 
that  war  was  immediately  pending  between  the  two  countries, 
we  found  that  we  had  no  cause  to  complain,  and  that  we  were 
willing  to  forget  and  wished  to  forget  all  that  had  occurred  in 
that  respect.1  And  in  consequence  a  formal  communication  of 
our  views,  which  I  do  not  doubt  will  be  found  in  the  annals  of 
the  Foreign  Office,  was  made  on  the  subject,  and  we  received, 
as  I  stated  at  the  time,  an  answer  from  St.  Petersburg  of  the 
most  satisfactory  kind — in  fact,  expressing  all  those  views  and 
sentiments  which  Prince  Grortchakoff,  the  Chancellor  of  the 
Empire,  had  expressed  at  the  Congress. 

Your  lordships  are  aware  that  within  a  short  time  there  has 
been  laid  upon  your  table  a  correspondence,2  which  has  been 
described  as  a  sinister  correspondence,  and  which  has  for  so 
long  a  time  been  the  subject  of  interest,  I  would  say  of 
suppressed  interest,  in  many  political  circles.  Your  lordships 
may  remark  that  at  the  end  of  that  correspondence  the  present 
Kussian  ambassador  alludes  in  a  summary  to  a  despatch  of 
Count  Schouvaloff,  in  which  there  is  a  long  quotation  or 
summary  of  what  I  had  expressed  to  Count  Schouvaloff  in  a 
conversation.  I  am  sure,  my  lords,  that  nobody  who  took  up 
those  papers  would  believe  that  it  was  a  publication  which  had 
been  for  a  long  time  suppressed  even  at  Cabul,  with  an  account 
of  the  Kussian  ambassador's  interview  with  me,  entirely  con- 
doning the  past  and  approving  everything  that  Russia  had 
done.  They  could  see  no  reason  for  the  publication  of  that 

1  Vide  supra. 

2  Correspondence  between  Shere  All  and  the  Foreign  Minister  on  one  side, 
and  Generals  Kaufman  and  Stolietoff  on  the  other,  which  was  found  at  Cabul 
by  General  Roberts  in  the  autumn  of  1879,  disclosing  the  existence  of  a  secret 
treaty  between  the  Ameer  and  Russia,  most  hostile  to  the  interests  of  this 
country,  and  signed  after  the  conclusion  of  the  Treaty  of  Berlin.     Letters 
written  to  the  Ameer  by  these  Russian  agents  directly  instigating  them  to 
attack  us  and  to  excite  a  general  Mahomedan  rising  against  our  power  in 
India,  formed  part  of  the  collection,  and  constituted  a  complete  justification  of 
our  invasion  of  Afghanistan  in  November  1878. 


264  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

despatch.  But,  my  lords,  if  you  look  at  the  date  of  the 
despatch  you  will  find  that  it  was  in  November,  1878,  whereas 
the  despatches  between  the  Kussian  authorities  and  the  Ameer 
which  were  discovered  after  the  second  capture  of  Cabul  were 
not  obtained  by  the  British  Government  until  exactly  a  year 
afterwards — namely,  October  or  November,  1879.  And  therefore 
it  does  appear  to  me  most  extraordinary  that  while  the  despatch 
of  Count  Schouvaloff  giving  an  account  of  his  interview  with 
me,  condoning  the  conduct  of  the  Kussian  Government  under 
certain  conditions  and  circumstances  which  are  almost  verbatim 
what  I  did  express  in  this  House  about  a  month  before — that 
anyone  could  think  there  was  any  connection  between  those 
despatches  so  found  a  year  afterwards  at  Cabul  and  that  con-- 
versation. 

Your  lordships  may  also  remark  that  in  this  curious  pub- 
lication there  is  in  inverted  commas  what  purports  to  be  an 
announcement  on  my  part  that  in  my  opinion  the  Government 
of  India  had  forced  our  hands  upon  the  subject  of  war,  and  had 
occasioned  a  declaration  of  war  not  only  before  it  was  necessary, 
but  when  it  was,  perhaps,  altogether  unnecessary.  The  case 
was  exactly  the  opposite  of  that.  Instead  of  Her  Majesty's 
Government  complaining  of  being  forced  by  the  Government 
of  India  to  make  war,  that  Government  was  most  anxious  to  • 
avoid  war.  We  were  appealed  to  by  the  Government  of  India 
to  know  what  was  our  decision,  as  it  fell  upon  them  to  make 
preparations  for  war,  if  war  were  decided  upon  ;  and  when  the 
affair  came  so  near  that  the  Government  of  India  asked  for  its 
final  instructions,  it  pledged  itself  voluntarily  to  make  na 
single  military  operation  without  our  sanction  and  advice.  The 
English  Government,  as  appears  by  the  papers,  were  anxious  to 
give  Shere  Ali  a  locus  penitentice,  and  instructed  the  Govern- 
ment of  India  to  concede  to  him  a  period  of  three  weeks  to 
consider  what  he  would  do.  We  calculated  every  day,  and 
considered  the  full  time  that  would  not  interfere  with  military 
operations  if  they  became  necessary.  My  lords,  I  am  quite 
certain  that  Count  Schouvaloff  was  utterly  incapable  of  mis- 
representation as  to  anything  I  expressed  to  him.  He  was 
well  known  to  every  member  of  this  House,  a  great  ornament 


EVACUATION  OF  CANDAHAR,   MARCH   1881.  265 

of  society,  a  most  honourable  man,  and  I  supposed  at  the  time 
that  it  must  have  been  a  misapprehension  of  the  ambassador^ 
But  I  understand  it  referred,  not  to  our  hand  being  forced  by 
the  Government  of  India  to  go  to  war — that  was  absolutely 
absurd — but  to  the  mission  which  two  months  before  had  been 
sent  by  the  Indian  Government,  with  the  sanction  of  the 
English  Government.  Your  lordships  are  well  aware  of  the 
failure  of  that  expedition;  but  the  expedition  was  not  an 
operation  of  war  but  a  mission  of  peace,  and  we  sent  an  indivi- 
dual who  was  the  friend  of  Shere  Ali,  and  who  we  believed 
would  have  succeeded  in  accomplishing  a  great  object.  It  was 
absolutely  necessary  that  I  should  call  your  lordships'  attention 
to  the  fact  that  the  alleged  conversation  with  Count  Schouva- 
loff  appended  to  the  papers  discovered  at  Cabul  took  place  in 
fact  one  year  before  they  were  discovered,  and  consequently 
that  the  expressions  which  excited  my  pain  and  surprise  really 
referred  to  other  subjects.  I  propose  now  to  notice  a  remark 
as  to  why  when  these  papers  were  discovered  at  Cabul  they 
were  not  published  by  the  late  Government. 

Certainly  it  would  not  have  been  in  harmony  with  the  ex- 
istence of  good  feeling  between  the  English  plenipotentiaries 
and  Prince  Gortchakoff,  if  we  took  at  the  earliest  opportunity  a 
step  which  would  not  have  tended  to  the  cultivation  of  that 
friendly  feeling  between  the  two  countries  which  was  our  object. 
Then  we  are  asked  why  we  consented  to  that  publication.  I 
am  not  the  person  who  has  consented  to  the  publication,  but  the 
minister.  I  always  took  it  for  granted,  from  the  extraordinary 
proceedings  with  regard  to  Afghanistan  during  the  general  elec- 
tion, that  sooner  or  later  there  must  have  been  a  discussion  on 
the  subject.  It  was  when  in  the  frenzy  of  the  hustings  the 
country  was  enlightened  on  the  subject  of  the  war  in  Afghan- 
istan, and  when  it  was  denounced  by  the  late  ministry  as  un- 
necessary and  a  great  damage  to  the  country — it  was  not  until 
these  expressions  were  used  that  we  found  that  some  steps  should 
be  taken  on  our  part  also  to  enlighten  the  country.  Who  could 
have  supposed  that  our  successors,  with  the  Cabul  papers,  not 
published,  but  in  their  possession  to  guide  them,  should  have 
announced  in  the  manner  they  did  that  the  whole  of  our  policy 


266  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

in  Afghanistain  should  be  repudiated  ?  Our  whole  policy  in 
Afghanistan  is  described  as  a  monstrous  romance,  as  if  there 
had  been  no  occasion  for  a  single  incident  that  occurred.  Our 
recollection  of  the  previous  connection  of  the  First  Lord  of 
the  Admiralty  (Lord  Northbrook)  with  the  Ameer,  seemed  to 
be  entirely  effaced  from  the  memory  of  the  nation.  And, 
therefore,  when  my  noble  friend,  the  late  Viceroy,  found  him- 
self held  up  in  so  distorted  a  form  to  his  country,  it  is  not 
surprising  that  as  a  member  of  this  House  he  should  have 
taken  an  opportunity  of  calling  your  lordships'  attention  to  the 
subject  of  these  despatches. 

Now,  I  would  ask  the  Lord  Privy  Seal  why  he  did  not 
answer  the  two  most  important  questions  asked  in  this  debate — 
they  were  asked  by  the  noble  viscount  behind  him.  The  first 
is,  What  do  the  Grovernment  mean  to  do  with  Candaharwhen  they 
evacuate  it  in  a  month  hence  ?  The  next  question  is,  why  we 
are  not  favoured  with  the  opinion  of  Lord  Ripon  and  his  coun- 
cillors ?  These  are  two  questions  which  we  have  certainly  a  right 
to  have  answered.  My  noble  friend  (Lord  Derby),  who  made 
a  very  animated  speech — and  I  do  not  know  there  is  anything 
that  would  excite  enthusiasm  in  him  except  when  he  contem- 
plates the  surrender  of  some  national  possession — made  a  dis- 
tinct point  on  that  subject.  He  asked  why  we  made  such  a  great 
point  of  retaining  Candahar  at  present,  when  we  were  willing  when 
we  made  the  Treaty  of  Grandamak  to  restore  it  to  the  native 
prince.  The  answer  is  clear.  When  we  negotiated  the  Treaty 
of  Grandamak  our  policy  was  to  create  a  powerful  and  indepen- 
dent Afghanistan,  and  therefore  everybody  must  feel  that  an 
attempt  to  retain  Candahar  must  baffle  and  defeat  that  policy. 

My  lords,  you  have  an  old  policy  with  regard  to  the  relations 
of  this  country,  India,  and  Afghanistan,  which  has  been  approved 
by  all  public  men.  Lord  Lawrence,  whom  we  always  speak  of 
with  great  respect,  though  the  Lord  Privy  Seal  says  we  syste- 
matically insulted  him,  was  most  decided  in  his  policy  that 
there  should  be  an  English  interest  in  Afghanistan,  and  that 
Russian  influence  in  it  should  not  for  a  moment  be  tolerated. 
Well,  what  is  your  policy  now  ?  Where  will  English  interests 
be  when  you  have  evacuated  Afghanistan  ?  What  will  be  the 


EVACUATION   OF   CANDAHAR,  MARCH   1881.  267 

state  of  Afghanistan  ?  It  will  be  a  state  of  anarchy.  We 
have  always  announced,  as  a  reason  for  interfering  in  Afghan- 
istan, that  we  cannot  tolerate  a  state  of  anarchy  on  our  frontiers. 
Is  not  that  an  argument  as  good  for  Kussia  as  for  us  ?  Will  not 
the  Kussians  say,  *  Afghanistan  is  in  a  state  of  anarchy,  and  we 
cannot  go  on  civilising  Turkestan  when  Afghanistan  is  in  a  state 
of  anarchy  ? '  Therefore  you  are  furnishing  Eussia  with  an  occa- 
sion for  advancing.  When  I  speak  of  this  policy  of  Russia,  I 
do  not  speak  of  it  in  a  hostile  spirit.  Russia  has  a  right  to  its 
policy  as  well  as  England.  Russia  has  as  good  a  right  to 
create  an  empire  in  Tartary,  as  we  have  in  India.  She  must 
take  the  consequences  if  the  creation  of  her  empire  en- 
dangers our  power.  I  see  nothing  in  that  feeling  on  the  part 
of  England  which  should  occasion  any  want  of  friendliness 
between  this  country  and  Russia.  We  must  guard  against 
what  must  be  looked  upon  as  the  inevitable  designs  of  a  very 
great  Power.  When  Lord  Palmerston  carried  one  of  the 
greatest  measures  of  his  life — the  fortification  of  the  Channel, 
which  was  of  much  more  importance  than  the  retaining-  of 
Candahar — was  that  looked  upon  as  a  symbol  of  hostility  to  the 
French  people  ?  Everyone  knows  that  Lord  Palmerston  was 
very  friendly  to  the  French  alliance,  and  yet  that  was  an 
operation  directed  immediately  against  France  for  the  purpose 
of  putting  an  end  to  the  continual  fluctuations  of  bluster  and 
fear  which  such  a  situation  as  England  was  in  at  that  time  must 
necessarily  entail. 

I  come  now  to  the  question  of  finance.  I  will  not  discuss 
whether  Sir  Henry  Norman's  helter-skelter  estimates  or  those 
of  other  persons  are  the  best  or  worst ;  but  I  will  remind  your 
lordships  of  this,  that  everything  that  has  been  alleged  re- 
specting the  retention  of  Candahar  and  the  consequent  expense 
was  said  about  the  retention  of  the  Punjaub.  We  heard  when 
the  retention  of  the  Punjaub  was  proposed  that  it  was  impos- 
sible to  raise  any  respectable  revenue  there ;  that  the  country 
was  bare  ;  that  the  population,  compared  with  India,  was  sparse ; 
and  that  it  was  quite  impossible  that  the  expenditure  of  our 
Government  could  be  repaid.  All  these  arguments  were  urged 
against  annexation  of  any  kind.  But  eventually  you  found  a 


268     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

very  prosperous  country  in  the  Punjaub  and  Scinde,  which 
proved  a  source  of  wealth  and  strength  to  India.  I  will  not 
believe  without  much  better  proof  that  the  retaining  Candahar — 
the  capital  of  an  extremely  fertile  district — will  entail  upon  you 
a  result  less  satisfactory  than  the  result  of  the  retention  of  the 
Punjaub  and  Scinde.  The  prima  facie  evidence  is,  I  think,  in 
favour  of  a  rich  district  paying  its  expenses,  and,  in  time,  probably 
paying  more  than  its  expenses. 

There  is  another  point  connected  with  Candahar  of  which 
much  has  been  made  in  this  debate  and  on  other  occasions.  It 
is  said  that  we  are  debarred  from  annexing  or  retaining  Can- 
dahar by  our  public  declarations  and  agreements,  and  in  the 
front  of  these  is  always  placed  the  celebrated  proclamation  of 
the  Queen  when  she  accepted  the  sovereignty  of  India.  I 
can  speak  with  some  confidence  upon  that  subject,  for,  to  a 
certain  extent,  I  am  responsible  for  that  proclamation.  It 
never  entered  into  my  head  that  there  was  anything  in  that 
proclamation  which  should  prevent  the  Queen,  if  she  went  to 
war  with  a  foreign  Power,  making  such  terms  at  the  conclusion  of 
peace  as  she  might  think  fit,  and  availing  herself  of  her  power 
to  take  any  provinces  by  right  of  conquest.  The  proclamation 
is  essentially  a  domestic  proclamation  addressed  to  the  princes  of 
India,  and  the  obligation  of  that  proclamation  has  been  most 
rigidly  observed.  There  is  no  instance  in  which  Her  Majesty 
has  been  counselled  to  deviate  from  it,  and  I  must  repudiate 
the  attempt  to  treat  the  Queen's  proclamation  on  her  assump- 
tion of  the  full  sovereignty  of  India  as  a  bar  to  the  retention  of 
Candahar  if  the  Government  should  deem  that  retention  wise 
and  prudent.  As  to  the  observation  that  the  commanding 
officers  announced  to  the  people  that  they  were  making  war 
against  princes  only  and  not  upon  subjects,  it  may  be  easily 
disposed  of.  Such  an  announcement  is  an  Oriental  custonu 
In  all  the  wars  that  have  taken  place  of  late — certainly  in  some 
of  them — similar  assurances  have  been  given  by  the  invading 
Power,  but  it  has  not  prevented  rich  countries  losing  their 
capitals,  and  ancient  empires  being  dislocated.  In  fact,  you 
can  generally  drive  a  coach-and-six  through  declarations  of  that 
kind. 


EVACUATION   OF   CANDAHAR,   MARCH  1881'.  269 

I  have  now  touched  upon  the  principal  points  in  this  ques- 
tion of  the  retention  of  Candahar.  I  confess  that  I  have  not 
heard  an  answer  to  the  speeches  of  my  noble  friend  who  intro- 
duced this  subject  to  your  notice,  of  the  noble  marquis  (Lord 
Salisbury),  and  of  the  noble  viscount  who  addressed  your  lord- 
ships first  this  evening.  It  will  not  be  unreasonable  if  I  repeat 
a  few  points  on  which  we  lay  particular  stress.  We  want  to 
know  why  we  are  not  favoured  with  the  views  of  Lord  Kipon 
and  his  council,  and  what  scheme  the  Grovernment  have  in 
view  if  they  evacuate  Candahar  in  the  short  space  of  time 
announced — namely,  in  less  than  a  month.  Noble  lords  oppo- 
site cheered  the  noble  lord  who  addressed  us  from  those 
benches  with  so  much  power,  and  who  seemed  to  admit  that  he 
would  be  satisfied  if  Candahar  were  to  be  retained  for  a  certain 
period  of  time.  Well,  there  is  nothing  unusual  in  retaining 
possession  of  a  considerable  town  or  province  until  the  country, 
after  great  disquietude,  war,  and  revolution,  has  subsided  into 
comparative  tranquillity.  That  is  not  an  Oriental  practice.  It  has 
been  practised  in  some  countries  in  Europe.  There  have  been 
such  things  as  military  occupations  before  the  present  time.  If 
the  Grovernment  had  come  forward  and  announced  that  they 
intended  to  give  up  almost  everything  that  we  had  obtained, 
but  that  in  the  present  state  of  Afghanistan  they  did  not  see 
their  way  to  leave  Candahar,  though  they  did  not  think  fit  to 
appropriate  it  absolutely,  I  should  still  have  regretted  their  not 
annexing  Candahar,  but  I  should  have  felt  that  they  were 
making  a  reasonable  and  statesmanlike  suggestion,  which  should 
be  received  with  attention.  Such  a  course  would  have  received 
the  respectful  consideration  of  this  House.  I  think  that  it 
becomes  the  House  of  Lords  to  express  its  opinion  upon  this 
subject.  I  had  myself  believed  that  even  if  we  abandoned 
Candahar  we  should  still  be  able  to  retain  our  Indian  Empire. 
I  do  not  think  that  it  is  absolutely  essential  to  us.  There  are 
several  places  which  are  called  the  keys  of  India.  There  is 
Merv.  I  do  not  know  whether  that  place  has  yet  been  taken 
by  the  Eussians.  Perhaps  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  will 
be  able  to  imform  us. 

The  Earl  of  Northbrook :  It  is  not  a  seaport. 


270  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

The  Earl  of  Beaconsfield :  No,  it  is  not  a  seaport.  Still, 
there  is  Merv ;  then  there  is  a  place  whose  name  I  forget ; 
there  is  Grhuzni;  then  there  is  Balkh,  then  Candahar.  My 
opinion  is  that,  though  such  places  may  not  be  essential  to  us, 
yet  that  I  should  regret  to  see  any  great  military  Power  in  posses- 
sion of  them — I  should  look  upon  such  an  event  with  regret,  and 
perhaps  with  some  degree  of  apprehension ;  but  if  the  great  mili- 
tary Power  were  there,  I  trust  we  might  still  be  able  to  maintain 
our  empire.  But  my  lords,  the  key  of  India  is  not  Herat  or 
Candahar.  The  key  of  India  is  London.  The  majesty  and 
sovereignty,  the  spirit  and  vigour  of  your  Parliament,  the 
inexhaustible  resources,  the  ingenuity  and  determination  of 
your  people — these  are  the  keys  of  India.  But,  my  lords,  a 
wise  statesman  would  be  chary  in  drawing  upon  what  I  may  call 
the  arterial  sources  of  his  power.  He  would  use  selection,  and 
would  seek  to  sustain  his  empire  by  recourse  to  local  resources 
only,  which  would  meet  his  purpose.  You  have  always  observed 
that  system  in  this  country  for  the  last  hundred  years.  You 
have  skilfully  appropriated  many  strong  places  in  the  world.  You 
have  erected  a  range  of  fortifications ;  you  have  overcome 
countries  by  the  valour  of  your  soldiers  and  the  efforts  of  your 
engineers.  Well,  my  lords,  I  hope  that  we  shall  pursue  the 
same  policy.  If  we  pursue  the  same  policy,  Candahar  is 
eminently  one  of  those  places  which  would  contribute  to  the 
maintenance  of  that  empire.  It  is  advisable  to  retain  it  on 
economical  grounds,  as  it  is  now  held  by  us ;  and,  as  my  noble 
friend  said  in  his  speech,  would  it  be  a  becoming  course  for  us 
now  to  withdraw,  when  the  fact  that  the  power  of  England  can 
be  felt  promptly  and  on  the  spot  is  the  best  security  for  peace, 
and  the  best  security  for  peace  must  be  the  best  defence  in  case 
of  war  ? 

The  views  taken  by  my  noble  friend l  below  the  gangway 
are  essentially  erroneous  views,  and  in  no  one  point  are  they 
more  erroneous,  I  think,  than  in  what  he  said  of  the  oppor- 
tunity which  the  House  of  Lords  now  has  of  expressing  its 
opinion.  I  do  not  wish  in  any  way  to  maintain  an  exaggerated 
view.  Feeling  myself  keenly  upon  the  question  of  Candahar,  I 

1  Lord  Derby. 


EVACUATION   OF  CANDAHAR,   MARCH   1881.  271 

believe  there  is  a  real  and  a  deep  feeling,  and,  what  is  more,  an 
increasing  feeling,  on  the  subject.  The  subject  is  being  more 
considered,  opinion  will  become  more  matured.  There  cannot 
be,  therefore,  a  more  legitimate  occasion  for  the  Peers  of 
England  to  come  forward  and  to  give  to  the  country  the  results 
of  their  wisdom  and  their  experience,  as  I  hope  they  will  to- 
night, in  reference  to  the  Empire  of  India. 


PAET  III. 

IRELAND. 


IISK    ELECTION    PETITIONS    (MAIDEN 

SPEECH) DEC.  7,  1837. 

IMS  BILL,    IRELAND      ....  AUG.  9,  1843. 

[ENDMENT  TO   ADDRESS      .         .         .  FEB.  1,  1849. 

tIRD  READING  IRISH  CHURCH  BILL  MAY  31,  1869. 

SPEECH  ON   ADDRESS       ....  FEB.  8,  1870. 

)OND  READING  IRISH  LAND  BILL   .  MARCH  11,  1870. 

WESTMEATH  COMMITTEE         .        .        .  FEB.  27,  1871. 

IRISH  UNIVERSITY  EDUCATION  BILL .  MARCH  11,  1873. 

COMPENSATION      FOR      DISTURBANCE 

BILL AUG.  3,  1880. 

PROTECTION  TO  PERSON  AND  PROPERTY 

BILL MARCH  1,  1881. 


VOL.  II. 


275 


IRISH   ELECTION   PETITIONS.     December  7, 1837. l 

MAIDEN   SPEECH. 

[The  first  Parliament  of  Queen  Victoria  assembled  on  November 
13,  1837,  and  on  December  6  the  attention  of  the  House  was  called 
by  Mr.  Smith  O'Brien  to  '  the  existence  of  an  Election  Subscription 
Fund,  carried  on  for  several  months  in  England  and  Scotland  for  the 
purpose  of  encouraging  the  presentation  of  petitions  against  members 
returned  to  serve  in  the  present  Parliament  for  the  counties,  cities, 
towns,  and  boroughs  of  Ireland,  and  of  defraying  the  expenses  attendant 
upon  the  conduct  and  prosecution  of  the  same.'  The  result  was  that 
on  the  following  day  a  debate  took  place  on  the  subject,  Mr.  Smith 
O'Brien  moving  for  a  Select  Committee  '  to  inquire  into  the  allega- 
tions '  contained  in  the  petition  aforesaid.  The  motion  was  opposed 
both  by  the  Government  and  the  Opposition,  and  supported  of  course 
by  the  Irish  members.  Sir  Francis  Burdett,  then  member  for  North 
Wilts,  was  one  of  the  offenders  aimed  at,  and  his  speech  was  answered 
by  O'Connell.  When  O'Connell  sat  down  the  new  member  for  Maid- 
stone  rose.  The  earlier  part  of  the  following  speech,  at  all  events, 
seems  sensible  and  practical  enough ;  but  that  in  some  way  or  another 
the  speaker,  before  he  had  done,  succeeded  in  making  himself  ridi- 
ilous,  is  a  fact  too  well  attested  to  be  doubted.] 

"E.  DISEAELI  rose  and  said,  that  he  trusted  the  House 
would  extend  to  him  that  gracious  indulgence  which 
was  usually  allowed  to  one  who  solicited  its  attention  for  the 
first  time.  He  had,  however,  had  sufficient  experience  of  the 
critical  spirit  which  pervaded  the  House,  to  know  and  to  feel 
how  much  he  stood  in  need  of  that  indulgence — an  indulgence 
of  which  he  would  prove  himself  to  be  not  unworthy,  by  pro- 
mising not  to  abuse  it.  The  honourable  and  learned  member 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Debates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

T  2 


276  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

for  Dublin  l  had  taunted  the  honourable  baronet,  the  member 
for  North  Wiltshire,2  with  having  uttered  a  long,  rambling, 
wandering,  jumbling  speech.  Now,  he  must  say — and  he 
could  assure  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  that  he 
had  paid  the  utmost  attention  to  the  remarks  which  flowed 
from  him — that  it  seemed  to  him  that  the  honourable  and 
learned  gentleman  had  taken  a  hint  from  the  honourable 
baronet  in  the  oration  which  the  honourable  and  learned  gentle- 
man had  just  addressed  to  the  House.  There  was  scarcely  a 
single  subject  connected  with  Ireland  which  the  honourable 
and  learned  member  had  not  introduced  into  his  rhetorical 
medley.  The  honourable  and  learned  member  for  Dublin  had 
also  taunted  the  honourable  and  learned  member  for  Exeter  3 
with  travelling  out  of  the  record  of  the  present  debate,  while 
he  himself  had  travelled  back  700  years,  though  the  House  was 
engaged  in  the  discussion  of  events  which  had  taken  place 
within  the  last  few  months. 

The  honourable  and  learned  member  had  favoured  the 
House  with  an  allusion  to  poor-laws  for  Ireland.  Perhaps  he 
was  wrong ;  but  at  all  events  there  had  been  an  allusion  to 
the  Irish  Corporation  Bill.  He  did  not  pretend  that  he  could 
accurately  remember  all  the  topics  the  honourable  and  learned 
member  had  introduced  into  his  speech ;  but,  if  no  reference 
had  been  made  by  the  honourable  and  learned  gentleman  to 
the  subject  of  Irish  poor-laws,  at  least  there  had  been  a  dis- 
sertation upon  the  measure  relating  to  the  municipal  corpora- 
tions of  Ireland.  Was  that  subject  relative  to  the  debate 
before  the  House  ?  He  would  not  allude — for  he  would  spare 
the  feelings  of  the  honourable  and  learned  member  in  that 
respect — to  the  subscriptions  which  the  honourable  and  learned 
member  had  told  the  House  had  not  been  successful  on  his 
side ;  but  that  circumstance  might  account  for  the  bitterness 
with  which  he  spoke  of  the  successful  efforts  of  the  much- 
vilified  Mr.  Spottiswoode.4  He  had,  indeed,  been  much  incline 

1  Mr.  D.  O'Connell.  *  Sir  Francis  Burdett. 

3  Sir  William  Follett. 

4  After  the  return  of  the  new  Parliament  in  the  summer  of  1837,  it 
alleged  that  many  of  the  Irish  returns  which  were  favourable  to  the  O'Connell 
party  were  attributable  to  intimidation  and  corruption,  and  on  these  grounds 


IEISH   ELECTION  PETITIONS,  DECEMBEK   1837.  277 

to  ask  the  honourable  member  for  Limerick  (Mr.  O'Brien)  if 
he  had  attended  the  meeting  at  which  it  had  been  expected 
that^every  Liberal  member  would  subscribe  5QL  to  the  protec- 
tion fund.  He  had  thought  that  perhaps  the  honourable 
member  could  have  given  some  curious  information  upon  that 
subject ;  that,  though  there  might  have  been  3,OOOZ.  or  2,9501. 
to  begin  with,  there  was  now  nothing  in  the  exchequer,  and  that 
this  project  of  majestic  mendicancy  had  now  wholly  vanished. 
The  honourable  and  learned  member  for  Dublin  had  announced 
that  the  Spottiswoode  subscription  was  a  Protestant  subscrip- 
tion. That  it  was  supported  by  many  Protestants  nobody  could 
attempt  to  deny,  but  if  the  honourable  and  learned  member 
meant  to  say  that  it  was  a  subscription  established  for  the 
particular  object  of  supporting  a  Protestant  faction  against  the 
Catholic  people,  he  begged  to  remark  that  he  saw  nothing  at 
all  to  justify  that  supposition.  It  might  be  a  Protestant,  but 
it  was  essentially  a  defensive  fund. 

The  honourable  and  learned  member  for  Dublin  had  talked 
of  the  clergymen  of  the  Church  of  England  subscribing  to  this 
fund,  and  had  contrasted  their  conduct  with  that  of  the  priests 
of  his  Church ;  but  he  defied  the  honourable  and  learned 
member  to  produce  a  single  instance  of  tyrannical  interference 
on  the  part  of  the  Protestant  clergy  at  all  similar,  or  in  the 
least  degree  analogous,  to  those  acts  which  were  imputed  to 
the  clergy  of  the  Catholic  Church.  If  the  honourable  and 
learned  member  doubted  what  he  was  saying,  let  him  refer  to 
the  volume  of  evidence  taken  before  the  Intimidation  Com- 
mittee, and  the  honourable  member  would  see  that  from  Corn- 
wall to  Yorkshire  no  case  had  occurred  that  bore  a  comparison 
to  the  occurrences  in  Ireland,  and  that  he  was  fully  justified 
in  the  statements  he  made.  The  object  of  the  subscription 
entered  into  was  to  procure  justice  for  the  Protestant  con- 
stituencies and  the  Protestant  proprietors  of  Ireland,  those 
constituencies  and  those  proprietors  being  unable  to  obtain 
justice  single-handed.  Honourable  members  knew  very  well 

it  was  resolved  to  contest  them.  A  public  subscription  was  opened  to  defray 
the  expenses ;  and  at  the  head  of  the  committee  of  management  appeared  the 
name  of  Mr.  Andrew  Spottiswoode,  the  Queen's  printer. 


278  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACOKSFIELD. 

that  a  landlord  in  Ireland  had  been  told  by  his  tenants  that 
they  could  not  vote  for  him  because  their  priest  had  denounced 
him  from  the  altar.  They  knew  very  well  that  when  it  was 
attempted  to  reinforce  the  strength  of  the  Protestant  con- 
stituency in  the  registration  courts,  some  revising  or  assistant 
barrister  from  the  Castle  of  Dublin  was  easily  found  to  baffle  it, 
and  thus  were  they  forced  on  to  their  last  resource  and  refuge 
— to  a  committee  of  that  House. 

Now  was  this  a  petition  which  had  the  downfall  of  the 
Catholics  for  its  obj  ect  ?  For  his  part,  he  thought  that  the 
facts  which  had  been  brought  before  the  notice  of  the  Intimi- 
dation Committee  perfectly  justified  the  use  of  the  epithets 
which  had  been  employed  in  the  original  circular  or  manifesto 
of  Mr.  Spottiswoode.  He  should  not  trouble  the  House  at 
any  length.  He  did  not  affect  to  be  insensible  to  the  difficulty 
of  his  position,  and  he  should  be  very  glad  to  receive  indul- 
gence even  from  the  honourable  members  opposite.  If,  how- 
ever, honourable  gentlemen  did  not  wish  to  hear  him,  he  would 
sit  down  without  a  murmur.  He  should  confine  himself  to  an 
attempt  to  bring  back  the  subject  to  the  point  which  was  really 
at  issue.  He  could  not  comprehend  why  a  considerable  body 
of  Her  Majesty's  subjects  respectable  not  only  for  their  num- 
bers, but  for  their  independence  and  integrity,  should  be  held 
up  to  scorn  and  odium  by  the  honourable  and  learned  member 
for  Dublin,  for  the  commission  of  an  act  the  legality  of  which 
he  had  not  presumed  to  question,  of  the  propriety  of  which  they 
were  as  competent  judges  as  that  honourable  and  learned 
member,  and  of  which,  after  what  he  had  himself  confessed, 
the  honourable  and  learned  member  ought  to  be  the  last  to 
question  the  delicacy. 

He  had  examined  the  list  of  contributors,  as  well  as  the 
honourable  and  learned  member  for  Dublin,  and  with  a  more 
than  ordinary  degree  of  interest,  arising  from  the  fact  that  the 
town  which  he  represented  had  contributed  a  larger  proportion 
of  the  fund  than  any  part  of  England,  and  he  did  not  find  that 
the  subscribers  principally  consisted  of  members  of  the  aristo- 
cracy. With  very  few  exceptions  they  were  to  be  found  among 
the  middle  classes — men  of  moderate  opinions  and  of  a  temperate 


IKISH  ELECTION   PETITIONS,   DECEMBER   1837.  279 

tone  of  mind — men,  in  fact,  who  seldom  stepped  out  of  the 
sphere  of  their  private  virtues — men,  as  honourable  gentlemen 
who  had  examined  these  lists  must  know,  who  seldom  partook 
of  the  excitement  created  by  the  conflict  of  parties,  and  were 
rarely  inflamed  by  the  passions  which  agitated  the  political 
world.  He  must  say  that  he  thought  it  a  very  strange  thing 
that  so  large  a  body  of  individuals,  many  of  whom  were  con- 
stitutional Eeformers,  many  of  whom,  until  very  lately,  sup- 
ported Her  Majesty's  Government — he  must  repeat,  that  he 
considered  that  it  would  be  very  hard,  very  unjust,  very  impolitic 
to  appoint  a  committee  of  inquiry,  which  would  be  equivalent 
to  a  verdict  against  those  individuals,  without  first  inquiring 
what  were  the  feelings  which  induced  them  to  pursue  the  line 
of  conduct  which  they  had  adopted.  He  would  remind  the 
House  that  those  individuals,  many  of  whom  supported  the 
Reform  Bill,  might  have  entertained  hopes  in  reference  to  the 
working  of  that  measure  which,  like  the  hopes  cherished  by 
some  honourable  gentlemen  opposite,  might  have  been  disap- 
pointed. They  might  have  entertained  an  expectation  that 
nomination  would  be  at  an  end,  that  the  stain  of  borough- 
mongering  would  be  wiped  out,  and  that  not  a  remnant  of  the 
system  would  remain  in  a  Reformed  Parliament.  But  when 
they  found  that  the  stain  of  boroughmongering  assumed  a 
deeper  and  a  darker  hue,  that  seats  were  openly  bought  and 
sold,  and  that  a  system  of  intimidation  was  organised,  compared 
with  which  the  riots  which  even  under  the  old  system  exhibited 
the  more  flagrant  features  of  electoral  operations,  were  peaceable 
— when  they  found  that  this  was  the  case,  they  perhaps  thought 
that  it  was  time  to  bring  matters  to  a  head. 

He  had  but  one  more  observation  to  make,  and  he  con- 
fessed he  was  rather  anxious  to  make  that  observation,  as  it 
would  give  him  the  first  opportunity  which  had  been  afforded 
him  of  saying  something  with  respect  to  Her  Majesty's 
Government.  He  wished  he  could  induce  the  House  to  give 
him  five  minutes.  It  was  not  much.  He  stood  there  to-night 
not  formally,  but  in  some  degree  virtually,  as  the  representa- 
tive of  a  considerable  number  of  members  of  Parliament. 
Now,  why  smile  ?  Why  envy  him  ?  Why  not  let  him  enjoy 


280  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

that  reflection,  if  only  for  one  night  ?  Did  they  forget  that 
band  of  158  new  members,  that  ingenuous  and  inexperienced 
band,  to  whose  unsophisticated  minds  the  right  honourable  the 
Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  addressed  himself  early  in  the 
session  in  those  dulcet  tones  of  winning  pathos  which  had 
proved  so  effective  ?  He  knew  that  considerable  misconcep- 
tion existed  in  the  minds  of  many  of  that  class  of  members  on 
the  Opposition  side  of  the  House  in  reference  to  the  conduct  of 
Her  Majesty's  Government  with  respect  to  elections.  He 
would  not  taunt  the  noble  lord  opposite  with  the  opinions 
which  were  avowed  by  his  immediate  followers,  but  certain 
views  were  entertained  and  certain  calculations  were  made 
with  respect  to  those  elections  about  the  time  when  the  bell  of 
our  cathedral  announced  the  death  of  our  monarch.  We  had 
all  then  heard  of  the  projects  said  to  be  entertained  by  the 
Government,  and  a  little  accurate  information  on  the  subject 
would  be  very  acceptable,  particularly  to  the  new  members  on 
the  Opposition  side  of  the  House. 

We  had  been  told  that  reaction  was  a  discovery  that  only 
awoke  derision,  that  the  grave  of  Toryism  was  dug,  and  that 
the  funeral  obsequies  of  Toryism  might  be  celebrated  without 
any  fear  of  its  resuscitation,  that  the  much-vilified  Peel  Parlia- 
ment was  blown  to  the  winds,  when  Mr.  Hudson  rushed  into 
the  chambers  of  the  Vatican.  He  did  not  impute  these  sanguine 
views  to  the  noble  lord  himself,  for  he  had  subsequently  favoured 
the  public  with  a  manifesto,  from  which  it  would  appear  that 
Toryism  could  not  be  so  easily  defeated.  It  was,  however, 
vaunted  that  there  would  be  a  majority  of  100,  which  upon 
great  occasions  might  be  expanded  to  125  or  130.  That  was 
the  question.  They  wished  to  know  the  simple  fact  whether, 
with  that  majority  in  the  distance,  they  then  thought  of  an 
alteration  in  the  Grenville  Act,  and  whether  it  was  then  sup- 
posed that  impartial  tribunals  might  be  obtained  for  the  trial 
of  election  petitions.  If  honourable  gentlemen  thought  this 
fair,  he  would  submit.  He  would  not  do  so  to  others ;  that  was 
all.  Nothing  was  so  easy  as  to  laugh.  He  wished,  before  he 
sat  down,  to  show  the  House  clearly  their  position.  When  they 
remembered,  that  in  spite  of  the  support  of  the  honourable  and 


IKISH  ELECTION  PETITIONS,  DECEMBER   1837.  281 

learned  member  for  Dublin  and  his  well-disciplined  band  of 
patriots,  there  was  a  little  shyness  exhibited  by  former  sup- 
porters of  Her  Majesty's  Government;  when  they  recollected 
the  '  new  loves '  and  the  '  old  loves,'  in  which  so  much  of  pas- 
sion and  recrimination  was  mixed  up  between  the  noble  Tityras 
of  the  Treasury  bench  and  the  learned  Daphne  of  Liskeard — 
notwithstanding  the  amantium  ira  had  resulted,  as  he  had 
always  expected,  in  the  amoris  integratio — notwithstanding 
that  political  duel  had  been  fought,  in  which  more  than  one 
shot  was  interchanged,  but  in  which  recourse  was  had  to  the 
secure  arbitrament  of  blank  cartridges — notwithstanding  eman- 
cipated Ireland  and  enslaved  England,  the  noble  lord  might 
wave  in  one  hand  the  keys  of  St.  Peter,  and  in  the  other — (the 
shouts  that  followed  drowned  the  conclusion  of  the  sentence). 
*  Let  them  see  the  philosophical  prejudices  of  man.'  He  would 
certainly  gladly  hear  a  cheer,  even  though  it  came  from  the 
lips  of  a  political  opponent.  He  was  not  at  all  surprised  at  the 
reception  which  he  had  experienced.  He  had  begun  several 
times  many  things,  and  he  had  often  succeeded  at  last.  He 
would  sit  down  now,  but  the  time  would  come  when  they  would 
hear  him.  (The  impatience  of  the  House  would  not  allow  the 
honourable  member  to  finish  his  speech,  and  during  the  greater 
part  of  the  time  the  honourable  member  was  on  his  legs,  he 
was  so  much  interrupted  that  it  was  impossible  to  hear  ivhat 
the  honourable  member  said.} — HANSARD. 


282     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


ARMS  BILL   (IRELAND).     August  9,  1843. 

I 

[On  April  29,  in  consequence  of  the  disturbed  state  of  Ireland 
resulting  from  the  Repeal  movement,  leave  was  given  to  bring  in  a 
Bill  on  the  above  subject ;  and  on  August  9,  on  the  third  reading, 
Mr.  Disraeli,  after  remarking  that  Sir  Robert  Peel  had  changed  front 
so  completely  on  his  Irish  policy  that  his  followers  must  now  shift 
for  themselves,  and  were  released  from  all  obligations  to  support 
him,  went  on  to  give  an  historical  sketch  of  the  relations  of  the  Tory 
party  to  Ireland.  In  this  assertion  of  independence  he  was  joined 
by  Lord  John  Manners,  Mr.  Smyth,  Mr.  B.  Cochrane,  and  others, 
and  it  may  be  interesting  at  this  distance  of  time  to  recall  the  im- 
pression produced  upon  the  public  mind  by  this  first  open  declaration 
of  hostility  to  Sir  R.  Peel's  Government.1  The  following  extract 
is  from  a  leading  article  in  the  '  Morning  Chronicle '  of  August  1 1 : — 

'  Amid  all  the  false-heartedness  of  public  men,  and  all  the  dupli- 
city which  has  poisoned  public  spirit,  it  is  cheering  to  remark,  from 
the  conduct  of  the  young  men  on  the  Tory  Benches,  that  there  is,  in 
the  eloquent  words  of  the  member  for  Shrewsbury,  some  hope  "  that 
the  time  will  come  when  a  party  will  be  formed  in  this  country  on 
the  principle  of  justice  to  Ireland — justice,  not  by  quailing  before 
agitation,  not  by  adopting  in  despair  the  first  quack  remedy  offered 
on  either  side,  but  by  really  putting  an  end  to  that  misery  which 
long  misgovernment  had  produced — that  misery  which  was  the  real 
cause  of  all  the  evil  of  Ireland,  and  which  until  it  was  put  an  end  to, 
would  not  cease  to  be  the  bane  of  England  and  the  opprobrium  of 
Europe." ' 

The  next  is  from  the  '  Times  '  of  August  17  : — 

'  It  appears  that  some  honourable  members  who  have  come  lately 
into  notice,  and,  we  will  add,  into  favourable  notice — so  far  at  least 
as  honourable  character  and  talent  is  concerned — choose  to  combine 
with  a  general  declared  support  of  the  administration,  opposition  to 
it  upon  certain  particular  subjects.  Lord  John  Manners,  Mr.  Smyth, 
Mr.  Disraeli,  Mr.  Cochrane,  and .  others,  animadverted  during  the 
late  debate  upon  the  policy  of  ministers,  and  on  Tuesday  night  Mr. 

1  Cf.  Introduction  to  Speech,  June  17,  1844. 


ARMS  BILL   (IRELAND),   AUGUST   1843.  283 

Disraeli  reflected  upon  some  of  the  measures  of  Government  in  the 
Servian  affair.  Upon  this  Lord  Sandon  rose  up  and  made  a  furious 
attack  upon  Mr.  Disraeli  for  daring  to  show  such  disagreement  with 
Government,  and  went  on  to  make  most  invidious  and  uncalled-for 
observations  upon  other  honourable  members  who  had  been  recently 
using  the  same  liberty. 

'  Is  it  really  come  to  this,  that  in  a  House  of  Commons,  in  which 
every  man  has  for  years  and  years  thought  himself  at  full  liberty  to 
talk  as  much  nonsense  as  he  likes,  for  as  long  as  he  likes,  gentlemen 
of  some  sense  and  talent  are  not  to  be  allowed  to  express  their 
opinions  upon  points,  whether  of  foreign  or  Irish  legislation,  without 
being  taunted  and  silenced  1  Is  the  Magna  Charta  of  the  House  to 
be  invaded,  and  that  at  the  expense  of  speakers  who  really  have  not 
as  yet  needed  its  indulgence  ?  Have  these  gentlemen,  we  ask, 
spoken  more  diffusely,  tediously,  lengthily  than  they  should?  If 
they  had,  the  example  of  members  would  have  borne  them  out ;  but 
we  do  not  hear  that  they  have.  When  they  have  spoken,  they  have 
spoken  to  the  point,  and  because  they  had  something  to  say,  Every- 
body allows  this. 

'  It  is  not  to  defend  "  Young  England,"  who  are  amply  able  to 
defend  themselves,  that  we  make  these  remarks,  but  to  maintain  the 
principle  of  free  and  fair  debate  against  such  attempts  to  cow  and 
bully  as  have  been  lately  exhibited.  It  is  not  for  the  benefit  of  the 
public,  or  really  for  the  minister  himself  (however  much  for  his 
temporary  convenience),  that  he  should  be  completely  independent  of 
and  above  all  questions  from  his  own  party.  Above  all,  it  is  not  for 
the  public  good  that  any  talent  should  be  kept  down,  and  excluded 
from  a  fair  field  of  exercise  and  training  which  the  debates  afford. 
The  country  is  not  in  a  state  to  dispense  with  any  rising  intellect  and 
vigour — any  heads  that  give  promise.  The  latter  may  not  be  ready 
for  service  yet — most  public  men  require  years  of  labour  and  drudgery 
to  bring  them  into  action.  There  may  be  ideas  that  require  maturing 
and  principles  that  require  moulding  and  accommodating,  before  they 
can  be  brought  to  bear  upon  the  present  state  of  things.  Parties 
have  been  stiffened  into  a  certain  attitude  for  the  last  two  centuries, 
and  certain  men  seem  wanted  politically,  and  others  not,  and  that  is 
all  that  your  superficial  statesman  says.  But  who  knows  when  a 
thaw  and  loosening  may  come — when  older  heads  may  have  gone,  new 
events  may  have  happened,  and  new  modes  of  thinking  may  be  de- 
manded and  come  into  play  ] ' 

Apropos  of  a  leading  article  which  appeared  in  the  '  Times '  of 
August  11,  Mr.  Disraeli  addressed  the  following  letter  to  the  editor : — 


284  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

'  SIK, — Your  paper  of  to-day  contains  a  leading  article  very  ingeni- 
ously written,  but  which  is  entirely  founded  upon  error. 

'  You  describe  me  as  having  "  ungenerously  reproached  the  Prime 
Minister,  in  the  late  debate  on  the  Irish  Arms  Bill,  for  the  failure  of 
his  industrial  measures " — a  reproach  which,  you  justly  observe, 
came  with  ill  grace  from  a  member  who  had  voted  for  the  tariff  and 
the  new  Corn  Law  last  year,  and  who  had  energetically  defended 
them  before  his  constituents  during  the  present. 

'  A  typographical  error  has  misled  you.  The  reproach  which  you 
have  ascribed  to  me,  and  which  was  noticed  by  Sir  Robert  Peel,  was 
urged  by  the  honourable  member  for  Liskeard. 

'  I  voted  for  "  the  industrial  measures  "  of  Sir  Robert  Peel  last 
year,  and  defended  them  during  the  present,  because  I  believed,  and 
still  believe,  that  they  were  founded  on  sound  principles  of  commer- 
cial policy :  principles  which  were  advocated  by  that  great  Tory 
statesman,  Lord  Bolingbroke,  in  1713;  principles  which,  in  abeyance 
during  the  Whig  Government  of  seventy  years,  were  revived  by  that 
great  Tory  statesman,  Mr.  Pitt ;  and,  though  their  progress  was  dis- 
turbed by  war  and  revolution,  were  faithful  to  the  traditional  policy 
of  the  Tory  party,  sanctioned  and  developed,  on  the  return  of  peace 
and  order,  by  Lord  Liverpool. 

'  It  is  not  merely  with  reference  to  commercial  policy  that  I  believe 
that  a  recurrence  to  old  Tory  principles  would  be  of  great  advantage 
to  this  country.  It  is  a  specific  in  my  opinion,  and  the  only  one, 
for  many  of  those  disquiettides  which  now  perplex  our  society.  I  see 
no  other  remedy  for  that  war  of  classes  and  creeds  which  now  agitates 
and  menaces  us,  but  in  an  earnest  return  to  a  system  which  may  be 
described  generally  as  one  of  loyalty  and  reverence  of  popular  rights 
and  social  sympathies. — I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Sir, 

'  Your  faithful  servant, 

'  BENJAMIN  DISKAELI. 
'Grosvenor  Gate,  Park  Lane  :  August  11,  1843.'] 

MR.  DISKAELI  said,  that,  when  in  opposition,  the  ministerial 
party  had  been  accused  of  making  Ireland  their  cheval  de 
bataille  to  slide  into  office  upon.  It  had  been  made  a  heinous 
offence  in  them,  that  they  had  supported  the  Registration  Bill  of 
the  noble  lord,  now  the  Secretary  for  the  Colonies.1  In  lending 
his  support  to  that  Bill,  he  would  not  deny  that  he  had  looked 
upon  it  as  a  party  question ;  still  he  had  thought  that  good 
cause  had  been  shown  for  the  measure,  and  in  this  belief  he 

1  Lord  Stanley. 


AKMS  BILL  (IRELAND),   AUGUST   1843.  285 

had  been  strengthened  when  he  found  the  Bill  received  the 
support  of  persons  from  whom  his  own  party  were  little  in  the 
habit  of  receiving  support.  When  he  found  himself  going  out 
in  a  division  with  the  noble  lord  the  member  for  Sunderland,1 
and  the  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for  Halifax,2  he 
scarcely  thought  the  time  would  ever  come  when,  for  his  support 
of  that  Bill,  he  should  be  held  to  have  been  guilty  of  factious 
opposition  to  the  Government.  The  House  would  recollect 
that,  in  the  course  of  a  protracted  opposition,  the  right  honour- 
able baronet  selected  two  questions,  by  which  he  led  the 
country  to  believe  that,  if  he  came  into  power,  his  system  of 
government  in  Ireland  might  be,  in  some  degree,  anticipated. 
These  two  measures  were,  the  Keform  of  the  Municipal  Insti- 
tutions, and  a  measure  for  the  Eegistration  of  Voters.  What 
had  been  the  conduct  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  with 
respect  to  these  two  measures  since  he  had  been  in  power  ? 
After  a  struggle  of  many  years,  the  right  honourable  gentleman 
entered  office  on  the  strength  of  his  policy  with  respect  to 
Ireland ;  for  it  was  not  to  be  denied  that  the  divisions  on  the 
Irish  Eegistration  Bill  were  the  things  that  really  overturned 
the  late  Government.  The  moment  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  was  in  office,  he  selected  for  the  office  of  Secretary 
for  Ireland  a  noble  lord3  whom  he  (Mr.  Disraeli)  had  long 
known  and  always  highly  esteemed,  but  the  selection  of  that 
noble  lord  was  a  virtual  admission  on  the  part  of  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  that  he  had  been  wrong  in  the  course  he 
had  pursued  when  in  opposition  with  respect  to  the  question  of 
municipal  reform. 

Very  shortly  after  the  right  honourable  gentleman  came 
into  power,  he  took  an  opportunity  to  announce  that  the  sub- 
ject of  the  registration  of  voters  in  Ireland,  a  question  on 
which  so  much  interest  was  felt  throughout  the  country,  would 
not  be  proceeded  with;  not  only  that  the  Bill  of  the  noble 
lord  was  not  to  be  resumed,  but  that  no  measure  of  a  similar 
character  would  be  brought  forward.  The  right  honourable 
gentleman  thus  admitted  that  his  course,  while  in  opposition, 

1  Lord  Howick. 

2  Mr.  C.  Wood,  afterwards  Sir  Charles  Wood.  3  Lord  Eliot. 


286  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

as  far  as  this  measure  was  concerned,  was  diametrically  wrong, 
and  that  those  to  whom  he  had  been  opposed  had  acted  cor- 
rectly. He  did  not  blame  the  right  honourable  gentleman 
for  this  conduct.  If  the  right  honourable  gentleman  thought 
that  the  line  he  had  taken  in  opposition  was  not  one  which 
a  minister  of  this  country  could  adopt,  the  right  honour- 
able gentleman  had  taken  a  right  and  prudent  course  in 
abandoning  it  when  he  came  into  office.  But  he  drew  this 
inference,  which  he  thought  was  a  most  important  one,  that,  as 
regarded  Irish  policy,  they  who  were  the  followers  and  sup- 
porters of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  were  now  left  to 
themselves.  That  was,  he  thought,  the  plain,  the  irresistible 
conviction  that  must  press  itself  on  the  mind  of  every  honour- 
able gentlemen  who  sat  on  that  side  of  the  House.  For  a 
number  of  years  they  had  supported  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  on  these  two  important  subjects.  The  right 
honourable  gentleman  succeeded  to  office  mainly  on  account 
of  the  line  he  had  taken  in  opposition  on  those  two  subjects, 
and  he  had  virtually  announced  to  the  House  and  the  country, 
that  he  had  been  in  error.  He  gave  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  full  credit  for  the  sincerity  of  his  conviction ;  but 
having  now  no  guide  on  the  subject  of  Ireland,  no  means  of 
forming  an  opinion — Ireland  being  in  a  state  which  challenged 
and  demanded  some  opinions — he  said  they  were  plainly 
free  from  any  bonds  of  party  on  the  subject,  for  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  himself  had  broken  them,  and  they 
had  a  right,  they  were,  in  fact,  bound,  to  form  their  own 
opinion  of  what  they  considered  really,  in  the  sincerity  of  their 
conviction,  was  most  adapted  to  the  advantage  of  the  two  coun- 
tries. 

He  said  this,  because  it  was,  in  fact,  a  course  which  was 
necessary  to  prevent  gentlemen  on  that  side  of  the  House  from 
being  stultified  by  the  position  in  which  they  were  placed.  To 
many,  no  doubt,  it  would  have  been  very  convenient  that  Ireland 
should  have  remained  in  a  state  of  great  tranquillity,  and  that 
they  should  not  have  been  forced  to  give  an  opinion  on  the 
subject.  He  was  sure  that  many  who  supported  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  would  have  felt  it  much  more  agreeable 


AEMS  BILL  (IRELAND),   AUGUST   1843.  287 

to  avoid  any  Irish  discussion;  but  being  told  by  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  himself  that  he  had  unfortunately  been 
a  blind  guide  in  opposition  on  the  subject  of  Ireland,  they 
must  not  look  to  him,  nor  to  the  views  he  announced,  as 
orthodox.  When  the  House,  therefore,  saw  members  of  his 
Government  come  forward  and  propose  a  measure  which  com- 
pelled the  House  to  consider  the  state  of  Ireland,  what  remained 
for  them  but  to  form  the  best  opinion  they  could,  without  the 
advantage  of  any  official  light,  on  this  the  most  important 
subject  in  the  modern  policy  of  this  country  ?  At  least  they 
must  endeavour  to  form  an  opinion  which,  if  not  absolutely 
sound,  might  not  be  so  totally  devoid  of  all  pretensions  to 
wise  policy  as  that  which  for  a  number  of  years  they  had 
adopted,  and  which  they  had  the  misfortune  to  find,  on  the 
announcement  of  their  leader,  was  in  fact  perfectly  erroneous. 

An  honourable  gentleman  on  his  side  of  the  House  had 
taken  a  view  of  what  he  considered  the  duty  of  his  party  on 
the  subject  of  Ireland,  at  which  some  members  seemed  to 
have  been  surprised,  and  he  defended  these  views  by  holding 
them  up  as  the  old  Tory  doctrines,  the  legitimate  doctrines 
of  the  party  with  which  he  was  connected.  He  knew  that 
that  statement  was  historically  true,  and  he  believed  it  to 
be  politically  just.  But  there  was  no  anarchy  greater,  no 
principle  if  followed  out  would  be  more  fatal  to  the  policy 
of  this  country,  and  to  the  character  of  public  men,  than  to 
suppose  that  the  two  great  parties  which  had  governed  the 
State  were  mere  factions,  without  distinctive  principles,  and 
absolute  differences  in  their  policy.  He  was  sure  honourable 
gentlemen  opposite,  from  whom  he  differed,  were  the  last 
men  who  would  attempt  to  controvert  an  opinion  of  that  kind. 
Their  leader,  who  was  unfortunately  not  then  present,  had  on 
more  than  one  occasion  given  what  he  might  call  a  pedigree  of 
patriotism,  proud  of  the  great  measures  which,  in  the  course 
of  the  last  two  hundred  years,  the  party  with  which  he  was 
connected  had  introduced  and  carried.  The  noble  lord  had 
given  the  House  his  view  of  the  character  of  those  measures, 
and  the  consequences  to  which  they  had  led ;  and  they  were, 
he  did  not  for  a  moment  hesitate  to  admit,  great  measures,  of 


288  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

which  a  party  might  well  be  proud,  and  which  none  but  great 
men,  so  numerous  in  the  political  history  of  this  country, 
could  have  framed. 

He  contended,  also,  that  the  party  with  which  he  was  con- 
nected, had  held  great  distinctive  principles,  and  carried  them 
out.  He  said,  too,  that  those  principles,  at  different  periods, 
had  been  advocated  by  men  as  great,  and  by  peers  as  eloquent, 
as  any  that  had  adorned  the  party  on  the  other  side.  But 
he  said,  when  that  party  was  left  in  the  lurch  by  their  own 
leader,  when  he  threw  up  the  reins,  and  told  them  he  had 
made  a  mistake,  and  that  he  could  give  them  no  further 
advice,  and  that  the  policy  he  pursued  was  perfectly  erro- 
neous, it  was  their  duty  to  remember  the  original  principles 
of  the  party  with  which  they  were  connected,  and  he  for  one 
could  not  find  in  the  history  of  that  party  any  grounds  for 
assuming  that  hostility  to  the  Irish  people  was  a  distinctive 
ingredient  of  what  was  called  Tory  policy.  He  found  the 
fact  to  be  exactly  the  reverse.  He  knew  that  there  had 
been  monarchs  as  Protestant  as  any  that  could  exist — as 
Protestant  as  any  under  whom  he,  for  one,  could  wish  to  live. 
In  the  time  of  that  great  queen,  Elizabeth,  to  whom  they  so. 
often  appealed,  in  the  time  of  another  monarch  of  whose 
Protestantism  the  Church  of  England  would  not  doubt,  since 
she  canonised  him  as  a  saint,  and  reverenced  him  as  a  martyr, 
that  was  not  the  policy  pursued,  these  were  not  the  sentiments 
encouraged  with  respect  to  the  Roman  Catholic  population  of 
Ireland. 

They  had  heard  another  night  of  the  Treaty  of  Limerick ; 
but  no  one  reminded  the  House,  when  it  entered  on  the 
subject  of  the  Irish  Church,  of  the  secret  articles  of  the  famous 
Glamorgan  treaty,  one  of  which  contained  a  scheme  for  the 
adjustment  of  the  claims  of  the  rival  churches,  which  had 
never  been  broached  in  debate  in  that  House.  That  clause 
alone  showed  what  was  the  feeling  of  those  whose  amity  to  the 
Church  of  England  could  not  be  doubted  on  the  delicate  and 
important  subject  of  the  claims  of  the  Irish  Church.  He  could 
not  observe  that  at  any  later  period  of  our  history,  whenever 
those  questions  had  been  discussed,  whenever  what  was  called 


ARMS  BILL  (IRELAND),  AUGUST   1843.  289 

the  Tory  party  had  had  the  preponderance  in  the  State,  that 
any  other  line  of  policy  had  been  adopted.  It  was  true  that 
circumstances  had  occurred  to  which  he  merely  referred  for 
illustration,  because  he  did  not  wish  to  introduce  the  bitterness 
of  party  into  this  debate.  The  Whig  party  for  seventy  years 
had  the  command  of  the  Government,  and  the  course  of  their 
policy  was  hostile  to  the  Roman  Catholics  of  Ireland.  That 
was  an  historical  fact  which  no  one  could  controvert.  But  even 
at  the  time  when  the  Tory  party  was  overthrown,  and  pro- 
scribed, and  when  it  was  led  by  an  attainted  and  exiled  leader, 
principles  were  always  advocated  in  harmony  with  those  to 
which  he  had  referred,  and  on  all  occasions  of  political  contest 
the  Roman  Catholic  population  of  this  country  supported  the 
claims  of  the  Tory  party.  He  said  this  because  at  a  time  like 
this  it  was  necessary  to  recur  to  the  principles  which  were  the 
foundation  of  the  party,  when  those  who  had  been  its  leaders 
no  longer  led  it,  and  they  found  themselves  sinking  into  a 
faction,  degenerating  into  the  lowest  position  in  which  a  public 
man  could  be  placed — when,  in  fact,  they  were  supporting  a 
ministry  without  knowing  what  principles  they  were  main- 
taining. 

He  wished  to  enforce  this  position  on  the  House,  because 
he  thought  there  was  nothing  more  strange  than  that  the  gen- 
tlemen of  England,  those  who  were  the  descendants  of  the 
cavaliers,  should  in  fact  always  be  advocates  for  governing 
Ireland  on  the  principles  of  the  Roundheads.  At  present,  the 
state  of  Ireland  forced  itself  upon  their  attention.  He  was 
not  going,  at  this  period  of  the  session,  to  descant  on  the 
grievances  of  Ireland  or  the  empirical  remedies  which  had 
been  proposed  to  cure  them;  but  he  wished  to  remind  the 
House  of  the  subjects  brought  before  them,  and  pressed  on 
their  attention  by  the  popular  voice.  There  was  the  tenure  of 
land,  a  question  which  had  shaken  empires  to  their  centres, 
and  occasioned  more  revolutions  than  any  other  cause.  There 
was  the  maintenance  of  the  poor,  electoral  rights,  the  claims 
of  the  rival  churches,  whether  you  should  maintain  one  line  of 
ecclesiastical  policy,  or  substitute  another.  Whether  these 
were  genuine  grievances,  founded  on  absolute  necessity,  or 

VOL.   II.  U 


290  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

merely  the  fantastical  inventions  of  those  who  were  called 
agitators,  it  was  a  fact  that  such  questions  were  mooted,  that 
such  questions  interested  millions,  and  that  was  enough  to  show 
that  the  state  of  such  a  country  demanded  the  most  serious 
attention.  What  was  the  consideration  which  the  statesmen 
of  the  present  day  gave  to  these  questions  ?  They  had 
announced  to  the  House,  almost  in  an  ostentatious  manner, 
that  they  intended  to  do  nothing,  because  to  do  nothing  was 
in  their  minds  the  wisest  policy. 

Now,  if  one  could  suppose  for  a  moment  that  the  curtain 
would  fall  upon  Ireland  as  it  fell  in  a  theatre  when  a  certain 
number  of  acts  had  been  performed,  one  might  conceive  that 
those  gentlemen  who  formed  the  present  cabinet  had  some  founda- 
tion for  the  policy  which  they  had  stated  it  was  their  intention 
to  pursue.  They  reasoned,  they  acted,  as  if  the  moment  that 
Parliament  was  prorogued  Ireland  must  be  tranquillised  ;  that, 
in  fact,  the  present  agitation  was  a  sort  of  divertissement  got 
up  to  form  the  materials  of  debate.  He  heard  almost  a  silent 
cheer,  as  if  that  was  a  version  of  the  movement  now  in  progress 
accepted  by  some  one  ;  but  to  believe  that,  they  must  reject  all 
the  facts  that  had  come  to  their  knowledge,  and  throw  aside  all 
the  evidence  on  which  their  information  was  founded.  He  had 
a  right  to  suppose  that  this  immense  agitation,  which  was  con- 
fessed by  ministers  to  exist,  and  the  causes  of  which  they  said 
they  were  not  prepared  to  remove,  would  still  subsist,  and  even  be 
aggravated.  He  knew  that  it  was  said  this  remarkable  conduct, 
this  paralysis  of  policy,  which  was  now  fashionable,  was,  in  fact, 
occasioned  by  a  dissension  in  the  cabinet.  That  had  been 
alleged,  in  more  than  one  quarter;  it  had  always  been  his 
opinion,  and  he  had  his  reasons  for  it.  They  were  not  reasons 
of  any  confidential  nature,  and,  therefore,  he  had  a  right  to 
state  them. 

He  had  never  heard  of  a  cabinet  yet,  since  the  institution 
of  cabinets,  in  which  there  was  not  a  dissension.  He  defied 
any  man  to  go  through  the  history  of  cabinets,  from  Stanhope 
to  the  Pelhams,  and  from  the  Pelhams  to  the  Pitts,  and  to 
find  one  which  had  gone  on  for  twenty-four  months  without 
very  serious  and  even  fatal  dissensions.  In  modern  times 


ARMS   BILL   (IRELAND),   AUGUST   1843.  291 

even  the  right  honourable  gentleman  himself  entered  the 
cabinet  through  a  dissension.  He  was  not  in  the  cabinet,  and 
it  was  wished  he  should  be,  and  one  morning,  without  the 
slightest  preparation,  the  Secretary  of  State  l  found  that  he  was 
no  longer  Secretary,  and  the  right  honourable  gentleman 
became  Secretary  in  his  place.  Even  in  the  most  quiet  times, 
in  the  cabinet  presided  over  by  the  patient  and  benignant 
genius  of  Lord  Liverpool,  dissensions  sprung  up  in  the  cabinet. 
Lord  Castlereagh  died,  and  a  series  of  bickerings  took  place. 
Mr.  Canning  entered  the  cabinet ;  dissensions  soon  took  place 
relative  to  the  introduction  of  Mr.  Huskisson ;  and  when  Mr. 
Canning  died,  in  a  moment  all  the  suppressed  evil  passions 
broke  forth,  and  from  that  time  to  the  present  there  never  had 
been  twelve  months  without  dissensions  in  the  cabinet. 

The  right  honourable  gentleman's  own  cabinet  did  not 
exist  more  than  a  few  months  before  dissensions  took  place, 
and  an  eminent  person  who  was  a  member  of  the  cabinet 
left  it;  and  they  had  a  right  to  believe  that  there  were  dis- 
sensions now.  They  had  the  Lord  Chancellor  of  England 
declaring  in  the  House  of  Lords  that  meetings  held  to  petition 
for  the  repeal  of  the  legislative  union  were  illegal ;  and  they 
had  it  declared  to  the  House  of  Commons,  by  order  of  the 
Lord  Chancellor  of  Ireland,  that  those  meetings  were  per- 
fectly legal,  provided  they  were  peaceable.  The  Leader  of 
the  Government  in  another  House  was  chalking  *  No  Popery  ' 
on  the  walls,  while  the  leader  of  the  Government  in  that 
House  told  them  that  he,  for  himself,  cared  nothing  about 
Protestant  or  Papist — Tros  Tyriusve — he  did  not  care  what  a 
man  believed,  and  meant  to  be  strictly  impartial.  When  they 
found  systems  so  inconsistent — policy  so  totally  opposed — alike 
only  in  one  great  result,  imbecility  of  the  most  lamentable 
nature,  he  had  a  right  to  believe  that  there  were  dissensions  in 
the  cabinet.  He  believed  it,  and  he  believed  that  they  would  destroy 
this  or  any  other  cabinet  which  did  not  address  itself  to  the  ques- 
tion of  the  Government  of  Ireland  in  a  very  different  spirit.  It 
was  perfectly  clear,  if  you  destroyed  the  Protestant,  and  estab- 

1  Lord  Sidmonth. 


292  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

lished  the  Eoman  Catholic  Church  to-morrow,  or  chose  any  iso- 
lated remedies,  one  after  the  other,  you  would  produce  no  im- 
provement in  the  state  of  Ireland.  It  had  arrived  at  that  pitch 
which  required  a  great  man  to  have  recourse  to  great  remedial 
measures.  It  was  not  a  single  remedy,  but  a  simultaneous 
adoption  of  all  those  which  had  been  indicated,  and  many  more 
might  be  indicated,  which  would  restore  Ireland  to  the  state 
which  every  man,  whether  Irish  or  English,  must  feel  to  be 
desirable. 

You  must  reorganise  and  reconstruct  the  Government, 
and  even  the  social,  state  of  Ireland.  Nothing  could  prevent 
it — they  might  cry  '  question,'  but  they  would  not  cry  ques- 
tion twelve  months  hence.  It  was  not  by  having  recourse 
to  any  of  those  measures  brought  forward  in  a  great  degree 
from  party  feeling,  but  in  some  degree,  too,  from  sincere 
conviction ;  it  was  not  by  mere  empirical  remedies  that  they 
could  give  peace  and  contentment  to  Ireland.  With  re- 
spect to  the  present  measure  he  had  little  to  say.  Well,  he 
would  give  his  reason.  He  did  not  wish  to  use  a  harsh  term, 
and,  therefore,  he  would  refrain  from  saying  that  the  measure 
considered  with  reference  to  the  present  state  of  Ireland,  was 
contemptible.  The  opposition  to  such  a  measure,  taken  also 
with  reference  to  the  present  state  of  Ireland,  must  naturally, 
in  some  degree,  be  entitled  to  the  same  epithet ;  but  there 
were  some  measures  which  to  introduce  was  disgraceful,  and 
which  to  oppose  was  degrading.  He  had  given  no  vote  on  this 
Bill  one  way  or  the  other,  and  he  should  continue  that  course, 
being  perfectly  persuaded  of  its  futility.  Believing  that 
Ireland  was  governed  in  a  manner  which  conduced  only  to  the 
injury  of  both  countries ;  that  the  principles  declared  by 
ministers  were  not  capable  of  relieving  us  from  the  difficult 
position  in  which  we  were  placed;  believing  that  the  old 
principles  of  the  party  with  which  he  was  connected  were  quite 
competent,  if  pursued,  to  do  that,  he  hoped  the  time  would 
come  when  a  party  framed  on  true  principles  would  do  justice 
to  Ireland,  not  by  satisfying  agitators — not  by  adopting,  in 
despair,  the  first  quack  remedy  that  was  offered  from  either 


AKMS  BILL   (IRELAND),   AUGUST   1843.  293 

side  of  the  House,  but  by  really  penetrating  into  the  mystery 
of  this  great  misgovernment,  so  as  to  bring  about  a  state  of 
society  which  would  be  advantageous  both  to  England  and 
Ireland,  and  which  would  put  an  end  to  a  state  of  things  that 
was  the  bane  of  England  and  opprobrium  of  Europe. 


294  SPEECHES   OF   THE   EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


AMENDMENT   TO   ADDKESS.     February  1,  1849. 

[By  the  death  of  Lord  George  Bentinck  in  the  previous  autumn, 
Mr.  Disraeli  had  now  become  leader  of  the  Opposition  in  the  House 
of  Commons.  The  brief  ]?ut  eloquent  tribute  to  the  memory  of  his 
deceased  friend — alas,  how  appropriate  to  himself  at  the  present 
moment !— which  occurs  early  in  the  following  speech  is  a  signal 
example  of  the  special  felicity  with  which  he  expressed  himself  on 
such  occasions.] 

JAM  sure,  Sir,  that  Her  Majesty,  since  her  accession,  has 
never  delivered  a  gracious  Speech  to  Her  Parliament  in 
which  she  has  felt  it  her  duty  to  allude  to  subjects  of  much 
greater  importance  than  in  that  Speech  to  which  we  have  listened 
to-day ;  but  I  am  bound  to  say  that  both  in  that  Speech  which 
Her  Majesty  has  been  advised  to  address  to  her  Parliament, 
and  in  that  answer  which  has  now  been  proposed  for  us  to  offer 
at  the  foot  of  the  Throne,  I  do  not  find  that  a  fair  and  candid 
statement  is  conveyed  as  to  the  condition  of  this  country — not 
a  candid  statement  either  as  regards  the  internal  condition  of 
this  country  or  its  external  relations. 

At  this  moment,  important  and  numerous  as  are  the  sub- 
jects for  our  consideration,  doubtless  the  most  urgent  would 
seem  to  be  the  state  of  Ireland.  The  language  which  I  find 
in  the  note  that  I  have  made  of  the  Speech,  does  not  convey 
to  me  the  impression  that  Her  Majesty's  ministers  are  of 
opinion  that  the  state  of  Ireland  requires  any  immediate 
remedy.  The  language  is  obscure ;  and  if  it  can  be  satisfac- 
torily explained,  it  will  show  the  advantage  of  discussion  in  the 
present  instance.  I  find  it  stated  that  '  the  operation  of  the 
laws  for  the  relief  of  the  poor  in  Ireland  will  properly  be  a  sub- 
ject of  early  inquiry ;  and,  any  measures  by  which  those  laws 
may  be  beneficially  amended,  and  the  condition  of  the  people 


AMENDMENT   TO   ADDRESS,  FEBRUARY    1849.  295 

may  be  improved,  will  receive  my  cordial  assent.'  Now,  I 
think  it  is  of  very  great  importance  to  know  what  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  mean  to  convey  by  the  phrase  '  early  inquiry.'  Is  it 
an  inquiry,  for  example,  by  a  committee  of  the  House  of 
Commons  ?  In  that  case  the  '  inquiry,'  no  doubt,  might  be 
early,  but  the  conclusion  most  probably  would  be  late.  And 
why  an  inquiry  by  a  committee  of  the  House  of  Commons  ? 
We  have  had  sufficient  experience,  I  think,  of  what  inquiries 
by  committees  of  the  House  of  Commons  may  accomplish  upon 
subjects  upon  which  an  administration,  duly  informed,  ought 
to  have  initiated  measures.  I  do  not  see  why,  in  the  present 
instance,  for  example,  the  case  of  the  Poor  Law  in  Ireland 
should  be  an  exception  to  that  experience.  You  have  a  Poor 
Law  Commission  in  Ireland  ;  you  have  a  Government  Board  in 
Ireland ;  and  I  want  to  know  from  what  sources  can  the  ad- 
ministration obtain  more  ample  and  satisfactory  information 
than  from  such  quarters  ?  They  ought  to  be  in  possession  of 
the  information  ;  if  they  think  there  ought  to  be  an  alteration 
in  the  laws,  they  ought  to  be  prepared  to  legislate  upon  that 
well-digested  information.  They  have  had  sufficient  time  well 
to  consider  the  authentic  information  that  has  reached  them  ; 
and  certainly,  in  the  present  state  of  Ireland,  if  the  only  mea- 
sure that  Her  Majesty's  ministers  are  about  to  bring  forward 
with  respect  to  that  country  is  the  proposition  of  an  inquiry 
into  the  operation  of  the  Poor  Law  by  a  Parliamentary  com- 
mittee, I  think  that  is  a  course  neither  satisfactory  nor  states- 
manlike. 

I  do  not  doubt  for  a  moment — no  one  can — the  urgency  of 
the  state  of  Ireland.  Honourable  gentlemen  who  represent 
that  country  have  much  to  answer  for,  in  my  opinion,  to  their 
constituents.  They  have  to  consider  whether  the  state  of 
Ireland  is  merely  brought  about  by  the  present  operation  of 
the  Poor  Laws — whether  it  may  not  have  been  in  a  great  degree 
occasioned  and  aggravated  by  other  measures  which  they 
supported,  and  by  the  non-adoption  of  other  measures  which 
they  opposed — measures  to  which,  by-and-by,  they  gave  their 
private  encouragement,  and  offered  their  public  opposition. 
Therefore,  when  gentlemen  representing  Ireland  come  forward 


296  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

and  complain  of  the  condition  of  Ireland,  it  is  well  that  they 
should  recollect  how  far  they  individually  may  be  responsible 
for  the  present  state  of  Ireland.  I  believe  I  see  a  gentleman 
opposite  who  represents  a  county  in  Ireland.  I  read  a  speech 
of  his  at  a  county  meeting  the  other  day ;  I  read  the  reasons 
he  alleged  for  the  present  condition  of  Ireland  ;  and  one  of  the 
weightiest  was  the  repeal  of  the  Corn  Law  in  the  year  of  our 
Lord  1 846.  But  when  I  referred  to  the  list  of  those  who  voted 
for  that  repeal,  I  found  in  it  the  name  of  that  worthy  knight  of 
the  shire.  I  think  it  is  well  for  us  to  consider  whether  these 
circumstances — Irish  members  complaining  so  much  who  sup- 
ported that  repeal,  and  who  opposed  measures  that  were 
brought  forward  on  this  side  of  the  House,  though  now  privately 
encouraged  at  meetings  holden  by  these  very  same  members — 
are  to  be  forgotten  at  this  moment.  I  confess  it  is  a  subject 
upon  which  I  have  little  inclination  or  heart  to  dwell  upon  on 
the  present  occasion. 

There  was  a  policy  once  proposed  in  this  House  with  respect 
to  Ireland,  which  by  the  Irish  members  was  defeated,  but 
which,  if  it  had  been  pursued,  would  have  produced  a  very 
different  effect  from  what  we  now  see  in  that  country — a  policy 
which  subsequently  was  partially  pursued,  even  by  the  Govern- 
ment who  then  opposed  it.  The  proposer  of  that  policy  is  no 
longer  among  us.  At  a  time  when  everything  that  is  occurring 
vindicates  his  prescience  and  demands  his  energy,  we  have  no 
longer  his  sagacity  to  guide  or  his  courage  to  sustain  us.  In 
the  midst  of  the  Parliamentary  strife,  that  plume  can  soar  no 
more  round  which  we  loved  to  rally.  But  he  has  left  us  the 
legacy  of  heroes — the  memory  of  his  great  name,  and  the  in- 
spiration of  his  great  example. 


297 


IRISH  CHURCH   BILL.     May  31,  1869.1 
(THIRD  READING.) 

ME.  DISRAELI, — Whatever  may  be  the  condition  of  the 
Sustentation  Fund 2  to  which  the  honourable  member 
alludes,  the  sustentation  fund  of  this  debate  seems  to  be  nearly 
exhausted.  I  trust,  therefore,  that  the  House  will  think  that 
I  have  not  intruded  at  too  early  a  period,  if  I  ask  their  per- 
mission to  make  a  few  observations  before  the  vote  is  taken. 
I  was  struck  recently  when  meeting  a  member  of  this  House 
who  has  long  been  absent,  and  who,  during  that  period,  has 
filled,  in  a  distinguished  manner,  eminent  posts  in  the  service 
of  his  Sovereign,  by  his  remark  that  on  returning  to  the  House 
of  Commons,  after  more  than  thirty  years'  absence,  he  found 
we  were  debating  the  very  same  subject  as  when  he  left  it — 
Ireland  !  Ireland  !  Ireland !  In  those  days,  when  the  disorders 
and  discontents  of  a  portion  of  the  Irish  people  were  brought 
under  the  consideration  of  Parliament,  there  was  only  one 
specific  for  the  grievances  then  alleged  and  the  disturbances 
then  felt.  Statesman  and  agitator,  Whigs  and  Tories,  all 
agreed  that  the  causes  of  these  discontents  and  disturbances 
were  political,  and  therefore  the  remedy  for  them  must  be  of 
the  same  character. 

So  year  after  year  specifics  of  that  kind  were  brought  for- 
ward by  ministers — Parliamentary  Keform,  Municipal  Reform,. 
Jury  Reform,  great  schemes  of  National  Education,  and  great 
systems  of  National  Police — all  of  them  to  ameliorate  the  con-. 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Delates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

2  Mr.  Miller,  the  member  for  Edinburgh,  had  referred  to  the  Sustentation 
Fund  of  the  Free  Kirk. 


298  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

dition  of  the  people  of  Ireland.  Yet,  nevertheless,  this  was 
ever  discovered,  that  periodically,  notwithstanding  all  these 
measures  of  improvement,  Parliament  found  itself  in  the  same 
position,  and  was  obliged  to  introduce  an  Arms  Bills  or  to  pass 
an  Insurrection  Act,  and  this  was  because  all  public  men  and 
all  parties  persisted  in  shutting  their  eyes  to  the  real  cause  of 
Irish  disturbance  and  discontent.  None  of  them  would  recog- 
nise that  it  was  a  physical  cause,  and  produced  by  physical 
circumstances,  which,  probably,  no  statesman  and  no  party 
could  attempt  to  encounter  or  to  remedy.  Yet  the  simple 
cause  is  now  better  understood,  and  we  know  that  that  dis- 
turbance and  that  discontent  were  occasioned  by  this  fact — 
that  more  than  a  quarter  of  the  people  of  Ireland  consisted  of 
paupers,  and  paupers  in  a  helpless  condition.  On  a  square 
mile  in  Ireland,  with  reference  to  the  cultivated  portion  of  the 
country,  there  was  a  population  greater  than  is  to  be  found 
in  any  European  or  even  any  Asiatic  country.  This  population 
depended  for  their  subsistence  upon  the  humblest  means  that 
probably  any  race  of  men  ever  existed  upon.  All  these  facts 
are  now  recognised,  and  some  light  can  be  thrown  on  the  state 
of  Ireland.  But  at  that  period  tho'se  who  had  to  consider  it 
were  perplexed  and  appalled  by  the  difficulties  they  had'to 
encounter.  They  had  recourse  to  political  palliatives,  and  they 
trusted  they  might  at  least  gain  time. 

When  you  conceive  the  position  of  a  country  where  one- 
fourth,  and  more  than  one-fourth,  of  the  population  were  paupers, 
and  paupers  in  a  helpless  condition — when  you  know,  as  may 
be  proved  by  documents  on  this  table,  that  there  were  600,000 
families  in  Ireland  who  were  only  employed  for  twenty  out  of 
fifty-two  weeks  in  the  year — you  can  form  some  idea  of  a  national 
condition  which  does  not  now  prevail  in  any  part  of  Europe. 
Eecollect  also  that  this  population  in  this  state  of  extreme  ad- 
versity was  not  a  stolid  one,  brutalised  by  their  condition,  as  has 
sometimes  happened  in  other  parts  of  Europe,  but  a  nation  of 
much  susceptibility,  of  quick  feeling  and  imagination,  ready  to 
place  themselves  under  the  leading  of  any  impassioned  orator 
who  called  upon  them  to  assemble  and  discuss  the  grievances 
of  their  country,  or  quick  to  yield  to  all  the  subdolous  machinery 


IRISH    CHURCH  BILL,   MAY   1869.  299 

which  constitutes  a  secret  society.  And  so  you  had  in  Ireland 
gigantic  public  meetings  on  a  scale  that  never  took  place  in 
any  other  country — as  at  Clontarf  and  Tara ;  or,  on  the 
other  hand,  you  had  Ribbon  societies  and  organisations  of  that 
kind.  All  this  time  the  country  was  governed  by  a  peculiarly 
weak  administration.  With  institutions  which,  from  circum- 
stances, were  necessarily,  even  if  of  a  beneficial  kind,  of  a  limited 
influence,  you  had  to  encounter  elements  of  disorder  and 
disturbance  in  Ireland  with  the  weakest  administration  probably 
that  ever  was  devised  by  man. 

Well,  now,  under  such  circumstances  everyone  felt  that  the 
position  of  Ireland  was  one  which  would  always  constitute  the 
difficulty  of  a  British  minister,  and  one  of  the  most  eminent  of 
British  ministers  acknowledged  that  Ireland  was  his  difficulty. 
He  only  acknowledged  that  that  was  his  fate  which  was  the 
destiny  of  every  minister  of  every  party  who  attempted  to  meet 
such  circumstances,  and  everybody  felt  that  nothing  but  some 
great  event,  impossible  to  contemplate,  could  possibly  remedy 
a  state  of  affairs  so  anomalous  and  irregular  as  that  which 
prevailed  in  Ireland.  A  revolution  might  have  produced  the 
necessary  consequences  and  changes  in  any  other  country ;  but 
a  revolution  in  Ireland  seemed  impossible,  and  a  human  and 
political  revolution  was  impossible  in  Ireland  from  its  connection 
with  England.  But  a  revolution  did  take  place.  Not  one  of 
those  great  changes  produced  by  political  parties,  because  it 
was  an  event  which  destroyed  parties ;  not  produced  by  political 
passions,  because  it  appeased  and  allayed  all  political  passions 
• — one  of  the  most  appalling  events  that  have  occurred  in 
modern  times,  perhaps  the  most  awful  and  appalling  event 
that  ever  happened  in  any  European  country.  The  limited 
means  of  sustenance  by  which  those  2,000,000  of  hopeless 
paupers  had  existed  suddenly  vanished,  as  if  stricken  from  the 
soil.  They  perished  by  thousands  and  tens  of  thousands. 
Emigration  followed  famine  and  disease.  In  the  course  of  a 
year  after  that  emigration  you  had  to  pass  in  this  House  an 
Act  of  Confiscation  of  many  estates  in  that  country,  and,  so  far 
as  revolution  is  concerned,  there  is  no  revolution  of  modern 
times  which  ever  produced  changes  so  extensive  as  were  occa- 


300  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

sioned  by  the  famine,  by  the  emigration,  and  by  the  Incum- 
bered  Estates  Act  passed  in  1849  by  this  House. 

Well,  Sir,  when  the  two  countries  had  somewhat  recovered 
from  these  appalling  circumstances,  when  the  earthquake  and 
the  fire  had  passed,  and  the  still  small  voice  of  counsel  was 
heard,  it  did  appear  both  to  England  and  Ireland,  that  if  ever 
there  was  an  opportunity  in  which  the  terrible  state  that  had  so 
long  prevailed  might  be  terminated — when  we  could  prevent  its 
ever  being  repeated — that  opportunity  had  arrived.  Costly  as 
may  have  been  the  price,  great  as  may  have  been  the  sacrifice, 
there  was,  at  least,  some  compensation  in  the  conviction  that,  so 
far  as  the  two  countries  were  concerned,  there  was,  at  least,  the 
opportunity  of  establishing  a  system  different  from  that  fatal 
condition  which  had,  almost  for  centuries,  baffled  the  devices 
of  ministers  and  the  noblest  aspirations  of  a  great  people. 
Well,  Sir,  we  can  look  back  upon  these  events  now,  after  a 
sufficient  interval,  which  permits  us  to  calculate  with  some 
accuracy  the  consequences.  So  far  as  the  means  offered,  on 
the  part  of  the  English  ministry,  to  effect  the  moral  improve- 
ment of  Ireland,  I  think  it  must  be  admitted  there  was  little 
left  to  be  done.  For  the  last  twenty  years,  I  might  even  say 
forty  years,  but  certainly  since  the  period  of  these  great  disasters 
— the  policy  of  the  English  Government  to  Ireland  has  ever 
been  the  same  and  consistent,  whatever  party  has  sat  on  the 
bench  opposite.  To  secure  the  due  administration  of  justice, 
to  open  to  all  creeds  and  to  all  races  the  fair  career  of  merit, 
to  soften,  without  having  recourse  to  those  violent  changes 
which  would  alarm  the  interests,  and,  perhaps,  outrage  the 
feelings  of  any  considerable  part  of  the  Irish  people — to  soften, 
I  say,  those  anomalies  which,  as  yet,  prevailed  in  their  social 
system — to  mitigate  and  countervail  them  ;  that  was  the  policy 
of  the  English  Government,  and  whoever  might  form  that 
Government,  whatever  party  might  sit  on  that  bench,  I  repeat 
it,  that  was  the  system  followed  and  has  for  years  invariably 
prevailed. 

That  system,  indeed,  was  established  and  pursued  befor 
the  great  calamities  which  occurred  to  Ireland  in   1848;  but 
even   that   system   of  advancing  the   moral   improvement   of 


IKISH   CHURCH   BILL,   MAY    1869.  301 

Ireland  was,  in*  some  degree,  assisted  by  these  great  calamities. 
They  had  occasioned  a  great  interchange  of  sympathy  between 
the  two  countries,  most  prominent  at  the  time  ;  and  indeed  so 
deep,  that  at  the  present  moment  its  effects  are  still  felt.  An 
English  minister  after  the  famine,  if  he  brought  forward  any 
measure  in  this  House  the  object  of  which  was  to  assist  the 
social  improvement,  or  by  moral  means  to  ameliorate  the  condi- 
tion, of  Ireland,  experienced  less  difficulties  upon  such  a  subject 
than  he  did  before.  There  was  no  captiousness,  no  suspicion  ; 
on  the  contrary,  both  sides  exhibited  on  every  occasion  even 
an  eagerness  to  support  a  policy  of  that  kind.  But,  Sir,  I 
admit  that  such  a  policy — a  policy  which  had  been  pursued 
before  these  calamities — however  constantly  prosecuted,  was 
not  calculated  to  produce  much  effect  on  the  physical  condition 
of  the  Irish  people.  That  depended,  as  I  have  indicated  to  the 
House,  upon  material  causes. 

Well,  now,  in  that  respect,  what  has  happened  to  the  Irish 
people  since  that  time  ?  I  say  we  have  the  advantage  of 
twenty  years'  experience  to  form  an  opinion  as  to  the  altera- 
tions in  their  condition  which  have  occurred  since  their  great 
calamity.  In  the  first  place  their  most  considerable  industry 
has  been  completely  reorganised  on  conditions  highly  favour- 
able to  the  labourers  on  the  soil.  I  will  not  enter  into  any 
controversy  now  as  to  the  degree  to  which  agricultural  wages 
have  increased  in  Ireland,  but  gentlemen  will  admit  that 
the  increase  has  been  considerable.  If  I  were  to  refer  to 
documents  on  our  table,  if  I  were  to  adduce  the  evidence  of 
Bishop  Doyle,  if  I  were  to  go  to  a  period  much  nearer — 
namely,  the  Reports  of  the  Commissioners  previous  to  the 
introduction  of  the  Poor  Law  into  Ireland — I  could  make 
statements  to  the  House  which  would  show,  I  think,  that  the 
increase  of  wages  to  agricultural  labour  in  Ireland  has  been 
very  considerable  indeed.  But  I  am  not  anxious  to  enter  into 
a  subject  on  which  controversy  might  arise.  I  will  say,  there- 
fore, that  we  may  fairly  assume  that  agricultural  wages  of 
labour  in  Ireland  have  probably  doubled  ;  but  what  is  a  much 
more  important  consideration  in  respect  to  wages  in  Ireland, 
is  that  for  the  first  time  in  that  country  you  have  had  a  system 


302  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF   BEACOXSFIELD. 

of  continuous  labour ;  and,  instead  of  600,000  families  which 
were  not  employed  for  more  than  twenty  weeks  in  the  year, 
you  have  the  population  employed  not  only  at  an  increase  of 
wages,  but  also  in  continuous  labour.  That  is  a  most  impor- 
tant fact  as  evidence  of  the  amelioration  in  the  condition  of 
the  people. 

I  will  not  enlarge  on  the  circumstance  that  capital  has 
been  introduced  into  Ireland,  and  has  been  applied  to  the 
encouragement  of  manufactures ;  because,  though  that  is  an 
important  consideration,  the  application  of  such  capital  is 
an  advantage  which  must  necessarily  be  the  slowest  realised. 
It  is,  however,  undoubted,  for  we  have  evidence  of  the  fact, 
that  capital  from  England  and  Scotland  has  been  applied  to 
manufactures  in  Ireland  during  the  last  twenty  years ;  but 
what  is  of  greater  moment  in  the  condition  of  the  people  of 
Ireland,  is  that  the  trade  of  Ireland  has  been  immensely  in- 
creased during  the  same  period  ;  that  the  increase  in  the  means 
of  employing  and  enriching  the  people  of  that  country  by  trade 
has  probably  been  greater  than,  but  certainly  equal  to,  the  im- 
provement in  the  condition  of  the  agricultural  labouring  classes. 
We  know  from  the  returns  relating  to  shipping  that  the  tonnage 
of  Ireland  has  not  merely  doubled,  but  trebled,  and  in  some 
parts  quadrupled ;  and  the  increase  of  tonnage  has  not  been 
confined  to  one  or  two  parts,  but  has  pervaded  the  whole 
country. 

What,  then,  has  been  the  general  result  of  all  these 
causes,  so  far  as  the  condition  of  the  people  is  concerned  ? 
The  result  is  that  there  has  disappeared  from  the  country 
these  2,000,000  of  hopeless  paupers,  whose  existence  there  was 
a  source  of  disturbance  and  discontent.  I  know  that  there 
are  some  who  say  that,  though  these  statistical  results  cannot  be 
fully  denied,  a  great  calamity  has  happened  to  Ireland  in  the 
reduction  of  its  population.  I  have  never  been  one  of  those 
who  looked  on  the  reduction  of  the  population  of  Ireland  as  an 
advantage.  I  entirely  agree  with  what  was  said  by  the  late 
Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland,  the  Duke  of  Abercorn,  that  you 
must  take  Ireland  as  you  find  it,  with  all  its  existing  circum- 
stances— its  tenure  of  the  land  and  its  population— and  yoi 


IKISH   CHITECH   BILL,   MAY   1869.  303 

must  endeavour  to  govern  Ireland  with  reference  to  those 
existing  circumstances,  and  not  with  reference  to  abstract  prin- 
ciples of  political  economy.  I  myself  deplore  the  reduction  in 
the  population  of  Ireland,  because  I  feel  that  the  condition  of 
the  United  Kingdom  cannot  be  maintained  in  the  scale  of 
nations,  unless  it  realises  a  certain  amount  of  population  ;  and, 
so  far  as  I  can  form  an  opinion,  that  amount  of  population 
cannot  be  secured  with  a  reduced  contribution  from  Ireland. 
Therefore  I  look  forward  to  the  time  when  we  shall  see  the 
population  of  Ireland  increase  from  its  increased  resources, 
and  reach  again  the  point  from  which  it  was  diminished,  not  in 
consequence  of  legislation,  but  from  causes  over  which  legisla- 
tion had  no  control. 

Well,  such  as  I  have  described  was  the  state  of  Ireland 
when  the  Fenian  conspiracy  broke  out.  We  had  had  a  revolu- 
tion in  Ireland — a  revolution  not  brought  about  by  human 
means ;  the  condition  of  the  country  was  entirely  changed,  and 
the  cause  of  disturbance  and  discontent  had  disappeared.  The 
country  was  recovering,  was  more  than  recovering — it  had 
recovered,  it  was  in  a  state  of  progressive  improvement ;  the 
people  were  better  fed  and  clothed,  and,  as  the  last  step  in  the 
improvement  of  their  condition,  they  were  beginning  to  be 
better  housed.  The  wealth  of  the  country  had  immensely  in- 
creased. Before  the  famine  the  stock  of  Ireland  was  worth 
little  more  than  20,000,OOOL,  and  by  the  last  Keturn  it  was 
estimated  at  50,000,000?.  Simultaneously  with  that  increase 
there  has  been  an  increase  in  the  arable  cultivation  of  the 
country.  Therefore,  the  allegation  that  the  increase  of  wealth 
has  been  increased  by  changing  the  system  of  cultivating  the 
soil  and  diminishing  the  amount  of  human  labour,  has  no  foun- 
dation. Such  was  the  condition  of  things  when  the  Fenian 
conspiracy  broke  out ;  and  I  say  that  upon  a  right  appreciation 
of  the  character  of  the  Fenian  conspiracy,  depends  the  question 
whether  the  policy  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  at  the 
head  of  the  Government  is  a  wise,  just,  and  necessary  policy, 
or  whether  we  may  not  be  pursuing  a  policy  most  dangerous 
and  fatal  to  this  country. 

We  approach  this  subject  under  some  advantages.     I  can 


304  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

say  for  myself  that  I  can  consider  it  without  prejudice  or 
passion.  The  Fenian  conspiracy  did  not  commence  when  I 
and  my  colleagues  were  responsible  for  the  government  of  the 
country.  It  had  already  broken  out,  or  I  dare  say  that  there 
might  have  been  some  impartial  critics  on  public  affairs  who 
would  have  alleged  that  that  conspiracy  broke  out  in  conse- 
quence of  our  policy.  We  inherited  the  conspiracy-  from 
our  predecessors,  but  I  am  the  first  to  acknowledge  that  the 
policy  of  our  predecessors  was  not  accountable  for  that  event. 
However,  I  and  my  colleagues  had  to  bear  the  brunt  of 
that  conspiracy,  and  even  our  opponents  have  generously  and 
fairly  admitted  that  we  put  it  down  with  firmness  and  yet 
with  moderation.  Therefore,  having  no  passion  or  prejudice  on 
the  subject,  I  can  express  my  opinion  as  to  the  character  and 
cause  of  the  Fenian  conspiracy  with  little  fear  of  being  mis- 
understood. I  had  the  opportunity  of  making  myself  well 
informed  on  the  subj  ect.  Honourable  gentlemen  know  now  a  great 
deal  about  it ;  but  something  never  will  be  known  except  by 
those  who  at  that  moment  incurred  the  responsibilities  of  con- 
ducting affairs;  and  I  will  express  my  conviction  that  the 
Fenian  conspiracy  was  an  entirely  foreign  conspiracy.  I  do  not 
by  that  mean  to  say  it  was  a  merely  American  conspiracy.  It 
did  not  arise  from  Ireland,  and  it  was  supported  from  Ireland 
very  slightly.  The  whole  plan  and  all  the  resources  came  from 
abroad,  and  the  people  of  Ireland,  as  a  people,  repudiated  that 
conspiracy.  From  the  commencement  the  persons  who  got  up 
the  conspiracy — the  originators  and  abettors  of  it — were  per- 
sons influenced  by  obsolete  traditions  as  to  the  condition  of 
Ireland,  and  the  temper  of  the  Irish  people,  and  when  they 
applied  their  preparations  to  Ireland  they  found  out  the  great 
mistake  they  had  made,  in  assuming  that  they  were  dealing  with 
Ireland  as  it  was  at  the  commencement  of  the  century. 

No  doubt  there  are  people  in  Ireland  who  will  at  all  times 
sympathise  with  a  political  movement  of  any  kind.  A  very  lively 
people,  with  not  too  much  to  do,  and  little  variety  of  pursuit, 
will  always  have  among  them  a  class  of  persons  ready  to  busy 
themselves  with  any  mischief  that  is  going  on.  There  is  a 
certain  class  in  Ireland  who  are  in  the  habit  of  saying  wh  at 


IRISH  CHUKCH   BILL,   MAY   1869.  305 

they  do  not  mean,  and  of  doing  that  which  they  never  intended. 
But  no  class  of  any  importance,  no  individuals  of  any  import- 
ance, ever  sanctioned  the  Fenian  movement :  they  repudiated 
it ;  they  felt  that  it  was  an  anachronism,  that  it  originated  in 
obsolete  traditions,  and  was  devised  by  people  who  were  per- 
fectly unaware  that  the  Ireland  upon  which  they  were  operating 
was  the  Ireland  in  which  there  had  been  the  portentous  revolu- 
tion I  have  referred  to.     If  this  view  be  correct,  I  say  that  the 
inference  I  have  a  right  to  draw  is  this — that  the  Fenian  con- 
spiracy having  been  completely  baffled,  having  been  met — I 
hope  I  may  be  allowed  to  say  with  courage  and  wisdom — and 
having   been  completely  put  down,  it   ought   to  have   been 
allowed  to  pass  away,  and  that  the  improvement  in  the  condition 
of  Ireland  ought  to  have  been  permitted  to  proceed  ;  so  that  in 
the  course  of  time,  in  another  ten,  or  even  twenty  years — and 
what  are  twenty  years  in  the  history  of  a  very  ancient  nation 
like  Ireland,  and   a   nation  which  has  passed  through   such 
vicissitudes? — we  had  a  right  to  believe  that  Ireland  would 
have  been  in  much  the  same  condition  as  England  or  Scotland. 
But  the  right  honourable  gentleman  took  a  different  view. 
The  Government  said,  in  effect — '  The  Fenian  conspiracy  is  a 
.national  conspiracy.    Because  of  the  Fenian  movement,  we  say 
that  the  whole  or  that  a  great  body  of  the  Irish  people  are 
dissatisfied  and  discontented  with  the  English  Government,  and 
what  therefore  must  we  do  ?     Why,  we  must  rescind  the  whole 
policy  of  conciliation  carried  on  for  thirty  or  forty  years.'     This 
is  the  keystone  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman's  policy, 
that  I  am  now  touching  upon.     The  Government,  I  say  de- 
clared— '  We  must  throw  aside  all  the  material  conclusions  that 
have  resulted  from  the   portentous    events   that  occurred   in 
Ireland,  and  that  did  not  result  from  human  legislation.   Never 
mind  the  lesson  of  the  famine.     Never  mind  the  lesson  which 
emigration  has  taught  you.     Never  mind  all  the  steps  which, 
in  consequence,  you  were  then  obliged  to  take  in  this  country. 
The  Fenian  conspiracy  proves  to  us  that  the  whole  nation  is 
disaffected.     We  must  rescind  the  policy  of  this  country,  and 
we  must  have  instead  a  policy  of  great  change  and  great  dis- 
turbance,'— for  you  cannot  have  great  change  without  great 

VOL.    II.  X 


306  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

disturbance.  I  say  that  the  whole  question,  whether  the  policy 
of  the  Government — the  gigantic  issue  which  the  right  honour- 
able gentleman  has  raised — is  a  wise  or  a  fatal  policy,  entirely 
depends  upon  the  right  appreciation  of  the  Fenian  movement. 

The  right  honourable  gentleman  says — '  This  is  a  proof  of 
general  and  national  discontent.  There  must  therefore  be  a 
complete  revolution  ; '  and  we  have  before  us  the  first  proposi- 
tion of  the  right  honourable  gentleman.  Now,  what  is  this 
first  proposition  ?  The  Bill  we  are  asked  to  read  a  third  time 
is  a  Bill  to  abolish  the  Protestant  Church  in  Ireland,  and  to 
confiscate  its  property.  I  will  not  repeat  the  general  objections 
to  that  policy.  On  the  third  reading  of  the  Bill,  and  when  we 
wish  to  secure  a  division,  we  ought  to  avoid  any  repetition  of 
arguments.  I  will  not  then  do  more  than  remind  the  House  that 
it  is  a  change  in  the  Constitution  of  England ;  that  this  is,  as  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  and  his  friend  have  announced,  a 
revolutionary  measure.  I  will  not  enlarge  on  what  I  myself 
deeply  feel — that  it  weakens  the  character  of  the  civil  power  by 
divorcing  it  from  the  religious  principle  which  has  hitherto 
strengthened  and  consecrated  it.  I  will  not  touch  upon  what 
is  quite  unnecessary  to  mention — that  this  is  not  a  measure 
which  will  increase  the  confidence  in  property  in  this  country. 
I  say  willingly  that  I  am  myself  prepared,  if  necessary,  to  con- 
sider all  these  contingencies — to  consider  whether  it  ought  not 
to  be  our  duty  to  adopt  a  policy  involving  a  change  in  the 
Constitution,  which  is  avowed  by  those  who  bring  it  forward  as 
a  revolutionary  policy,  which  endangers  and  weakens  property, 
which  may  damage  to  the  last  degree  the  very  character  of 
civil  authority,  by  divesting  it  of  any  connection  with  religion 
— all  these  contingencies,  I  repeat,  I  am  prepared  to  consider, 
and,  if  necessary,  to  accept,  if  the  supreme  safety  of  the  State 
requires  it. 

But  I  say  that  we  have  at  least  a  right  to  ask  Her  Majesty's 
Government  that  we  should  have  proofs  of  that  necessity. 
What  I  want  to  ask  the  House  on  this  occasion  is — prepared, 
as  I  assume  the  majority  of  the  House  is,  to  embrace  all 
these  large  and  violent  propositions — Have  we  received  from 
the  Government  adequate  evidence  to  prove  the  necessity 


IRISH   CHURCH  BILL,   MAY    1869.  307 

— have  we  received  any  evidence  ?  I  want  to  know  that. 
Ireland  is  discontented  again,  Ireland  is  disturbed  again,  there 
is  one  remedy  for  that  discontent  and  that  disturbance ;  it  is 
the  abolition  of  the  Protestant  Church,  and  the  confiscation  of 
its  revenues.  Have  we  evidence  that  if  we  abolish  that  Church 
and  confiscate  its  revenues,  we  shall  render  Ireland  contented 
and  tranquil  ?  Sir,  so  far  as  I  can  form  an  opinion,  that  evi- 
dence does  not  exist.  I  receive  myself  a  great  many  letters 
every  day  upon  the  state  of  Ireland.  We  have  heard  from  an 
honourable  gentleman  (Sir  Greorge  Jenkinson)  during  these 
recent  debates,  how  much  he  was  applied  to  in  a  similar  manner. 
I  do  not  know  whether  his  correspondence  exceeds  mine,  but 
mine  is  of  two  kinds ;  I  have  a  correspondence  from  laymen, 
even  from  ladies.  Though  you  may  smile,  if  I  read  some 
of  these  letters  to  the  House  you  would  find  that  they  are 
of  a  harrowing  character.  There  are  letters  from  Irishmen 
and  Irishwomen,  describing  a  state  of  affairs  which  would 
make  every  countenance  serious  that  heard  them.  The  writers 
are  extremely  alarmed  about  the  lawless  state  of  their  country, 
and  I  am  not  in  a  position  to  relieve  or  remove  their  alarm. 
But  I  also  receive  a  great  many  letters  from  clergymen  of  the 
Established  Church  in  Ireland,  and  they  are  also  alarming — 
but  their  alarm  is  of  a  different  character.  These  clergymen 
are  only  alarmed  at  the  conduct  of  Her  Majesty's  Gfovern- 
nient.  They  are  not  at  all  alarmed  at  the  state  of  the  country. 
Some  of  those  clergymen  live  in  Tipperary,  and  some  of  them 
in  Westmeath ;  but  not  one  of  them  tells  me  that  he  is  in 
danger — that  his  life  is  menaced,  or  that  he  is  under  the 
least  apprehension  of  offence  or  personal  attack  from  his  Irish 
fellow-countrymen.  Though  almost  every  week  we  have  ac- 
counts of  outrages  in  Ireland,  I  have  not  heard  that  any  clergy- 
man of  the  Established  Church  has  been  a  victim.  No  Irish 
clergyman  of  my  acquaintance  has  ever  alluded  to  disturb- 
ance. 

Then,  I  say,  what  is  the  evidence,  that,  if  we  abolish  the  Irish 
Church  and  confiscate  its  resources,  we  shall  cause  any  diminu- 
tion of  the  discontent  and  disturbance  which  prevail  among  a 
portion  of  the  Irish  people,  inasmuch  as  it  does  not  appear 

x  2 


308  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

that  the  discontent  and  disturbance  arise  from  any  of  the 
accidents  of  the  Irish  Church  ?  Surely,  if  it  were  true  that 
the  abolition  of  the  Church  and  the  confiscation  of  its  property 
would  be  sufficient  to  remove  that  discontent  and  disturbance 
we  should  have  some  evidence  of  the  fact  in  assaults  on 
the  persons  of  the  clergy.  (A  laugh.)  Will  the  honourable 
gentleman  who  laughs  be  good  enough  to  explain  why  it  is 
that  the  landlord  should  be  assassinated  while  the  clergyman  is 
left  unharmed  ?  If  the  persons  who  commit  these  outrages  are 
discontented  with  the  landlord  or  with  the  class  to  which  he 
belongs,  and  prove  their  discontent  in  the  manner  that  has 
lately  been  exhibited,  why  should  they  not  assault  the  clergy- 
man if  they  are  discontented  with  him  or  with  the  class  to 
which  he  belongs  ?  But,  on  the  contrary,  the  clergyman  is 
in  a  state  of  complete  security ;  he  makes  no  complaint  of  the 
circumstances  of  the  locality  in  which  he  passes  his  existence, 
and,  so  far  as  his  letters  are  concerned,  you  would  not  even 
suppose'  that  his  country  was  disturbed. 

I  again  ask,  then,  what  evidence  have  we  that  if  we  have 
recourse  to  this  violent  remedy  we  shall  effect  the  cure  for 
which  it  is  brought  forward?  But  in  itself  the  objections  to 
it  are  very  considerable,  totally  irrespective  of  those  general 
ones  to  which  I  have  alluded.  If  the  right  honourable  gen- 
tleman had  proposed  to  confiscate  the  property  of  the  Irish 
Protestant  Church  and  transfer  it  to  the  Koman  Catholic 
Church,  though  I  should  consider  that  an  unjust  and  unwise 
measure,  it  would  be  an  intelligible  proposition.  It  would  be 
a  proposition  for  which  arguments  could  be  offered,  and  which 
at  least  would  be  consistent  with  the  principle  of  property. 
But  what  does  the  right  honourable  gentleman  say?  'I 
propose  to  confiscate  the  property  of  the  Protestant  Church, 
because  the  Eoman  Catholic  Church  is  discontented.'  What 
does  that  amount  to  ?  To  a  recognition  of  the  principles  of 
Socialism.  A  man  comes  forward  and  says — '  I  am  a  poor-man, 
and  I  am  discontented  because  another  man  has  an  estate 
and  a  park.  I  do  not  want  his  estate  and  his  park,  because 
I  know  that  every  man  cannot  expect  to  have  an  estate  and  a 
park,  but  take  them  away  from  that  other  man,  and  my  political 


IRISH   CHURCH-  BILL,  MAY   1869.  309 

views  are  met.'  Well,  that  is  Socialism,  and  it  is  the  policy 
which  Her  Majesty's  Ministers  now  propose  to  adopt. 

What  I  wish  to  impress  upon  the  House  is  this — we 
have  no  evidence  whatever  to  justify  or  even  to  colour  the 
great  changes  which  are  proposed.  Let  us  see  what  will  be  the 
first  effect  of  this  revolution.  It  must  produce  this  effect — it 
will  outrage  the  feelings  of  a  considerable  portion,  though  not 
the  majority,  of  the  people  of  Ireland,  because  I  am  not  at  all 
prepared  to  admit  that  there  are  two  nations  in  Ireland.  I 
look  upon  the  Irish  nation  as  one  people.  For  the  last  forty 
years  they  have  been  a  homogeneous  people.  If  we  go  into 
an  analysis  of  the  elements  of  a  nation,  in  the  way  which  has 
been  attempted  in  this  debate,  I  am  not  sure  that  we  shall  be 
able  to  prove  that  the  English  people  are  so  homogeneous  as 
political  philosophy  now  requires  a  people  to  be.  I  treat  the 
Irish  as  one  nation,  and  I  think  all  must  admit  that  the  course 
we  are  pursuing  must  outrage  the  feelings  and  sensibly  injure 
the  interest  of  a  considerable  portion  of  that  nation.  Well, 
Sir,  that  is  a  break-up  of  the  system  of  general  conciliation 
which  has  been  pursued  for  so  many  years.  You  have  disorder 
and  disquiet  in  Ireland,  and  you  injure  those  who  are  tranquil 
and  not  disorderly.  You  add  their  discontent  to  existing  dis- 
affection. Under  what  circumstances  are  you  pursuing  this 
course  ?  You  are  pursuing  it  under  these  circumstances : 
Assuming  that  the  Fenian  conspiracy  is  an  absolute  proof  of  the 
disaffection  of  the  majority  of  the  Irish  nation — which  I  believe 
to  be  the  greatest  fallacy  in  the  world — you  announce  a  great 
change  in  your  policy,  you  rescind  the  ancient  policy  of  conci- 
liation, and  announce  a  policy  of  change  and  revolution,  of 
which  the  first  measure  is  before  us,  but  several  other  measures 
have  been  promised  and  announced. 

I  will  not  dwell  in  any  detail  upon  them  now,  but  it  is 
impossible  to  forget,  when  we  are  considering  the  wisdom  of 
your  present  proposition,  that  you  have  held  out  expectations 
to  the  great  portion  of  the  people  of  Ireland  respecting  the 
tenure  of  land.  I  am  not  going  to  make  quotations  from  the 
speeches  of  honourable  gentlemen  opposite,  which  is  never 
my  way,  but  I  must  refer  to  them  when  they  affect  the  public- 


310  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

conduct  of  their  party.  There  is  no  doubt  you  have  selected 
this  time  to  announce  your  policy  upon'  subjects  scarcely  less 
important,  perhaps  quite  as  important  as  the  Irish  Church.  The 
right  honourable  gentleman  the  Secretary  of  State  for  the 
Home  Department,  the  minister  l  peculiarly  charged  with  the 
maintenance  of  peace  and  tranquillity  in  Ireland,  has  publicly 
denounced  the (  infernal  land  laws '  of  that  country.  (Mr.  Bruce 
denied  having  used  the  words.)  The  statement  has  been  made 
in  this  House,  and  the  right  honourable  gentleman  did  not  then 
take  the  opportunity  of  making  the  explanation  which  he 
probably  will  at  a  future  period.  Whether  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  did  or  did  not  make  that  declaration  is  at  present  of 
little  importance,  but  that  the  great  portion  of  the  Irish  believe 
that  he  made  it  is  of  the  utmost  importance.  Why  was  it 
passed  over  in  silence  ?  What  was  the  effect  of  that  declara- 
tion ?  Why,  Captain  Rock  came  out  of  his  retirement  directly  ; 
again  we  found  Molly  Maguire  waving  her  bonnet,  and  Lady 
Clare  paying  evening  visits  to  the  landlords  and  farmers  of 
Ireland.  It  is  all  very  well  for  the  right  honourable  gentleman 
to  tell  me  in  a  half-whisper  across  the  table  that  he  intends  to 
deny  it,  but  he  cannot  forget  that  this  passage  in  his  speech 
was  read  in  this  House  a  month  ago,  and  that  he  did  not 
then  make  the  denial.  (Mr.  Bruce  :  There  was  nothing  in  the 
speech  about  *  infernal  land  laws.') 

Perhaps  it  was  landlords.  I  am  never  anxious  to  twit  my 
opponents  with  their  speeches,  and  I  did  not  bring  the  extract 
with  me,  but  I  will  send  it  to  the  right  honourable  gentleman. 
But  I  say  you  have  at  this  moment  unfortunately  produced 
every  possible  element  that  can  be  devised  to  disturb  Ireland. 
It  is  not  merely  that  you  propose  this  great  measure  of  abolish- 
ing the  Church,  which  at  once  enlists  against  you  the  feelings, 
as  is  now  proved,  of  1,500,000  of  the  population  of  that  country 
— because  it  cannot  be  estimated  by  those  who  are  in  formal 
communion  with  that  Church — but,  whether  you  are  guiltless  or 
not,  you  have  so  contrived  it  that  you  have  conveyed  the 
impression  to  the  great  portion  of  the  Irish  people — who 
apparently  were  very  content,  who  were  gaining  higher  wages 
1  Mr.  Bruce,  afterwards  Lord  Aberdare. 


IKISH   CHURCH  BILL,   MAY    ?869.  311 

than  they  did  twenty-five  years  ago,  and  who  were  continuously 
employed — the  impression  that  a  great  revolution  is  about  to 
take  place  in  the  tenure  of  land.  I  do  not  dwell  on  the  subject 
of  education,  because  it  has  not  produced  any  agitation  at 
present.  The  Eoman  Catholic  Church  on  the  subject  of  educa- 
tion waits  in  grim  repose. 

This  is  quite  clear  that  we  have  now  before  us — whether  it 
was  necessary  or  not  is  another  question — instead  of  an  Ireland 
that  was  at  least  tranquil — that  in  my  mind  was  essentially 
progressive  in  its  improvement,  that  was  not  in  any  way 
connected  with  originating  the  Fenian  movement — you  have 
an  Ireland  now  which  you  must  be  prepared  to  witness  as  the 
scene  of  disturbance — perhaps  of  disaster.  What  will  be  the 
natural  consequence  ?  What  is  the  state  of  affairs  we  must 
prepare  ourselves  for  if  Ireland  be  the  scene  of  great  disturb- 
ances ?  For  you  not  only  hare  one  body  of  the  population 
agitating  for  a  revolution  in  the  land  tenure,  and  another — and 
a  most  influential  body — holding  back  from  a  Government 
which  they  think  has  betrayed  them  with  respect  to  the  insti- 
tution most  dear  to  their  feelings  and  most  prized  by  them.  I 
say,  amid  all  this  distraction  and  disorder  there  will  be  one 
power  and  one  body  that  will  not  be  disordered  and  dis- 
tracted. There  is  one  power  in  that  country  where  you  are 
preparing  such  elements  of  disturbance  which  is  organised  and 
disciplined  with  a  powerful  tradition,  and  which  is  acting  under 
the  authority  and  command  of  a  supreme  and  sovereign  central 
power.  Now,  I  am  not  one  of  those  who  wish  to  create  un- 
necessary alarm  about  the  power  of  the  Papacy.  There  are 
philosophers  opposite  who  of  course  despise  the  power  of  the 
Papacy.  But  I  am  not  speaking  on  this  subject  as  a  philoso- 
pher, nor,  I  hope,  as  a  bigot ;  I  am  speaking  as  a  member  of  Par- 
liament looking  to  public  affairs,  looking  to  what  I  think  will  be 
the  consequence  of  the  conduct  of  the  ministers  of  this  country, 
and  endeavouring  to  contemplate  the  means  by  which  we  may 
have  to  counteract  those  consequences.  I  do  not  blame  the 
Papacy  if  Ireland  is  in  the  state  of  confusion  and  distraction 
that  it  soon  must  be  if  this  policy  is  followed.  I  do  not  blame 
the  Papacy  for  fulfilling  that  which  their  convictions  must 


312  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

make  their  highest  duty.  One's  ordinary  knowledge  of 
human  nature  convinces  us  of  this — that  if  men  are  abler  than 
others,  if  they  have  the  advantage  of  discipline  and  organisa- 
tion, when  all  others  are  undisciplined  and  disordered,  when 
everything  is  confusion,  when  everyone  is  discontented,  when 
you  have  Captain  Kock  among  the  peasantry,  and  when  you 
have  the  Protestants  of  Ireland  feeling,  as  they  will  feel, 
betrayed  and  deserted,  they  will  take  advantage  of  such  a  state 
of  things  in  order  to  advance  the  opinions  which  they  con- 
scientiously say  are  the  right  ones,  and  avail  themselves  in  such 
circumstances  of  the  discipline  and  order  which  they  command. 

You  are  encountering  under  those  circumstances  a  foe  with 
which  you  will  find  it  very  difficult  to  compete ;  and  to  laugh  at 
such  possible  contingencies,  at  such  highly  probable  contingen- 
cies, may  do  very  well  for  the  course  of  this  debate  ;  but  what 
will  be  our  condition  when  these  almost  certain  results 
happen,  and  when  you,  if  you  sit  in  Parliament  at  that  time, 
will  be  called  on  to  devise  means  to  counteract  and  to  prevent  a 
consummation  of  consequences  which  hitherto  have  been 
conceived  and  held  in  this  country  to  be  fatal  to  our  liberties  ? 
I  say,  Sir,  it  cannot  be  for  a  moment — it  ought  not  for  a 
moment  to  be  concealed  from  ourselves,  that  the  policy  of  Borne, 
when  we  give  every  inducement  and  encouragement  to  that 
policy,  will  be  to  convert  Ireland  into  a  Popish  kingdom.  It 
will  not  only  be  her  policy,  it  will  be  her  duty.  Then  you  will 
understand  what  she  means  with  regard  to  the  Established 
Churches;  then  you  will  understand  what  she  means  with 
regard  to  national  education ;  then  you  will  understand  what 
that  great  system  is  which  hitherto  has  been  checked  and 
controlled  by  the-  Sovereign  of  this  country,  but  in  a  manner 
which  has  never  violated  the  rights  and  the  legal  liberties  of 
one  Roman  Catholic  fellow-subject. 

But  you  will  now  by  this  policy  have  forced  and  encouraged 
Rome  to  adopt  a  line  different  from  that  which  hitherto  she 
has  pursued.  What  will  happen  ?  Is  it  probable  that  the 
Protestants  of  Ireland  will  submit  to  such  a  state  of  affairs 
without  a  struggle  ?  Who  can  believe  it  ?  They  will  not. 
They  never  will  submit  to  the  establishment  of  Papal  ascend- 


IRISH   CHURCH  BILL,   MAY   1869.  313- 

ency  in  Ireland  without  a  struggle.  How  can  you  suppose  it  ? 
How  is  it  to  be  prevented  ?  It  may  occur,  probably,  when  the 
union  between  the  two  countries  which  is  to  be  partially 
dissolved  to-night  may  be  completely  dissolved ;  for  it  is  very 
possible  that,  after  a  period  of  great  disquietude,  doubt,  and 
passion,  events  may  occur  which  may  complete  that  severance 
of  the  union  which  to-night  we  are  commencing.1  But  what  of 
that  ?  I  do  not  suppose  that  if  there  were  a  struggle  between 
the  Eoman  Catholics  and  the  Protestants  of  Ireland  to-morrow, 
even  the  right  honourable  President  of  the  Board  of  Trade,2  or 
the  most  fanatic  champion  of  non-interference,  can  suppose 
England  would  be  indifferent.  What  I  fear  in  the  policy  of 
the  right  honourable  gentleman  is  that  its  tendency  is  to 
civil  war. 

I  am  not  surprised  that  honourable  gentlemen  should 
for  a  moment  be  startled  by  such  an  expression.  Let  them 
think  a  little.  Is  it  natural  and  probable  that  the  Papal  power 
in  Ireland  will  attempt  to  attain  ascendency  and  predominance  ? ' 
I  say  it  is  natural ;  and,  what  is  more,  it  ought  to  do  it.  Is.  it 
natural  that  the  Protestants  of  Ireland  should  submit  without 
a  struggle  to  such  a  state  of  things  ?  You  know  they  will  not ; 
that  is  settled.  Is  England  to  interfere  ?  Are  we  again  to 
conquer  Ireland  ?  Are  we  to  have  a  repetition  of  the  direful 
history  which  on  both  sides  now  we  wish  to  forget  ?  Is  there  to 
be  another  battle  of  the  Boyne,  another  siege  of  Derry,  another 
Treaty  of  Limerick  ?  These  things  are  not  only  possible,  but 
probable.  You  are  commencing  a  policy  which  will  inevitably 
lead  to  such  results.  It  was  because  we  thought  the  policy  of" 
the  right  honourable  gentleman  would  lead  to  such  results 
that  we  opposed  it  on  principle ;  but  when-  the  House  by  a 
commanding  majority  resolved  that  the  policy  should  be 
adopted,  we  did  not  think  it  consistent  with  our  duty  to  retire 
from  the  great  business  before  us,  and  endeavoured  to  devise 
amendments  to  this  Bill,  which  I  do  not  say  would  have 
effected  our  purpose,  but  which  at  least  might  have  softened 
the  feelings,  spared  the  interests,  and  saved  the  honour  of  those 
who  were  attacked  by  the  Bill.  In  considering  these  amend— 
1  Prophetic.  *  Mr.  Bright. 


314  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ments  we  were  most  scrupulous  to  propose  nothing  that  could 
counteract  and  defeat  the  main  principles  of  the  policy  of  the 
right  honourable  gentleman.  We  felt  that  to  do  so  would  be 
to  trifle  with  the  House ;  would  not  be  what  was  due  to  the 
right  honourable  gentleman,  and  could  not  effect  the  purpose 
we  had  before  us.  There  was  not  an  amendment  which,  on  the 
part  of  my  friends,  I  placed  on  the  table,  that  was  not  scrupu- 
lously drawn  up  with  this  consideration ;  there  was  not  one  of 
those  amendments  which,  in  my  opinion,  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  might  not  have  accepted,  and  yet  have  carried  his 
main  policy  into  effect.  What  the  effect  of  carrying  these  amend- 
ments might  have  been,  I  pretend  not  now  to  say ;  but  at  least, 
if  they  had  been  carried,  or  if  the  right  honourable  gentleman 
himself  had  modified  his  Bill  in  unison  with  their  spirit,  there 
was  a  chance  of  our  coming  to  some  conclusion  which  would 
have  given  some  hope  for  the  future. 

I  ask  the  House  to  recollect  at  this  moment  the  tone  and 
spirit  in  which  these  amendments  were  received.  Rash  in  its 
conception,  in  its  execution  arrogant,  the  policy  of  the  right 
honourable  gentleman,  while  it  has  secured  the  triumph  of  a 
party,  has  outraged  the  feelings  of  a  nation.  If  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  had  met  us  in  the  spirit  in  which  we 
met  him,  at  any  rate  we  should  have  shown  the  Protestants 
of  Ireland  that,  whatever  might  be  the  opinion  of  the  majority 
upon  the  State  necessity  of  the  policy  of  the  Government,  there 
was  a  desire  in  Parliament  to  administer  it  in  a  spirit  of  con- 
ciliation towards  those  who,  as  all  must  acknowledge,  are  placed 
in  a  position  of  almost  unexampled  difficulty  and  pain.  But 
not  the  slightest  encouragement  was  given  to  us,  no  advance 
on  our  part  was  ever  accepted  by  the  right  honourable  gentle- 
man who  has  insisted  upon  the  hard  principle  of  his  measure, 
and  it  has  become  my  duty  upon  this,  the  last  day,  to  comment 
upon  the  character  of  that  principle,  and  the  possible  con- 
sequences of  its  adoption.  I  know  very  well  the  difficult 
position  in  which  we  are  placed  to-night.  I  know  very  well  it 
would  be  more  convenient  if  we  did  not  ask  for  the  opinion  of 
the  House  to-night,  and  allow  this  third  reading  to  pass  un- 
challenged ;  but  I  confess  I  could  not  reconcile  that  course  with 


IKISH   CHUKCH  BILL,   MAY   1869.  315 

my  sense  of  public  duty.  If  this  Bill  be  what  I  believe  it  to 
be,  it  is  one  which  we  ought  to  protest  against  to  the  last,  and 
we  cannot  protest  against  it  in  a  manner  more  constitutional, 
more  Parliamentary,  more  satisfactory  to  our  constituencies  and 
to  the  nation  than  by  going  to  a  vote  upon  it. 

We  know  very  well  you  will  have  a  great  party  triumph, 
a  huge  majority,  and  we  shall  have  what  is  called  '  loud 
and  continued  cheering.'  But  remember  this,  that  when 
Benjamin  Franklin's  mission  was  rejected  there  was  loud  and 
continued  cheering,  and  Lords  of  the  Privy  Council  waved 
their  hats  and  tossed  them  in  the  air;  but  that  was  the 
commencement  of  one  of  the  greatest  struggles  this  country 
ever  embarked  in ;  it  was  the  commencement  of  a  series  of  the 
greatest  disasters  England  ever  experienced.  And  I  would 
recommend  the  House  to  feel  at  this  moment  that  this  is  not 
a  question  like  the  paper  duty,  not  a  party  division  upon  some 
colonial  squabble ;  we  are  going,  if  we  agree  to  this  Bill  to- 
night, so  far  as  the  House  of  Commons  is  concerned,  to  give  a 
vote  which  will  be  the  most  responsible  public  act  that  any 
man  on  either  side  of  the  House  ever  gave.  You  may  have  a 
great  majority  now,  you  may  cheer,  you  may  indulge  in  all  the 
jubilation  of  party  triumph  ;  but  this  is  a  question  as  yet  only 
begun,  and  the  time  will  come,  and  come  ere  long,  when  those 
who  have  taken  a  part  in  the  proceedings  of  this  House  this 
night,  whatever  may  be  their  course  and  whatever  their  decision, 
will  look  upon  it  as  one  of  the  gravest  incidents  of  their  lives, 
as  the  most  serious  scene  at  which  they  have  ever  assisted.  I 
hope  when  that  time  shall  come,  none  of  us  on  either  side  of 
the  House  will  feel  that  he  has  by  his  vote  contributed  to  the 
disaster  of  his  country. 


316  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,  February  8,  1870. 

[At  the  meeting  of  Parliament  in  1870,  the  condition  of  Ireland 
•was  so  bad  that  it  hardly  seemed  possible  that  it  could  be  worse. 
Disestablishment  had  stimulated  lawlessness ;  and  the  situation  wa& 
in  fact  almost  parallel  to  what  we  witness  at  the  present  moment.] 

ME.  DISRAELI :  Mr.  Speaker,— The  Speech  from  the  Throne 
promises  the  introduction  of  many  important  measures, 
but  I  think,  Sir,  this  is  hardly  an  occasion  when  it  would  be 
convenient  to  the  House  that  we  should  enter  into  any  general 
criticism  upon  them.  I  will,  therefore,  only  express  a  hope 
that  when  those  measures  are  brought  forward  we  shall  find  they 
are  treated  by  Her  Majesty's  Grovernment  in  a  manner  not  un- 
worthy of  their  importance.  Nor,  indeed,  should  I  have  ven- 
tured to  trouble  the  House  at  all  to-night,  had  it  not  been  for 
some  passages  towards  the  end  of  the  Speech  which  refer  to 
the  condition  of  Ireland.  Those  passages,  I  confess,  appear  ta 
me  to  be  neither  adequate  nor  altogether  accurate.  Her 
Majesty's  Grovernment  acknowledge  that  the  condition  of 
Ireland  is  not  at  all  satisfactory ;  but,  while  admitting  it  is  bad,, 
they  remind  us  that  on  previous  occasions  it  has  been  worse. 
They  tell  us  that  they  have  employed  freely  the  means  at  their 
command  for  the  prevention  of  outrage — a  statement  which  the 
House  must  have  heard  with  satisfaction  from  so  authoritative 
a  quarter,  because  certainly  the  popular  and  general  impression 
was  to  the  contrary.  As  I  understand  the  language,  which  to 
me  seems  involved,  and  certainly  is  ambiguous,  the  Grovernment 
inform  us  that,  contingent  upon  their  passing  certain  measures,, 
they  will  resume  the  duty  of  a  Grovernment,  and  protect  life 
and  property.  I  confess  I  am  sorry  to  see  in  a  document  of 
this  imperial  character  that  any  body  of  men  who  are  responsible 


SPEECH  ON  ADDRESS,  FEBRUARY   1870.  317 

ministers  of  the  Crown  are  of  opinion  that  to  protect  the  life 
and  property  of  Her  Majesty's  subjects  is  a  contingent  duty. 

Now,  with  respect  to  the  condition  of  Ireland,  and  why  I 
think  this  notice  of  it  by  Her  Majesty's  Government  is  neither 
adequate  nor  accurate.  Unquestionably  before  this  we  have 
had  murders  in  Ireland,  and  assassinations  and  mutilations,  and 
violence  in  all  its  multifarious  forms — threatening  notices, 
secret  societies,  turbulent  meetings,  and  a  seditious  press.  All 
this  has  happened  before.  But  on  all  previous  occasions  when 
such  disorders  have  pervaded  that  country  reasons  have  been 
alleged,  and  if  not  universally,  have'  been  generally  adopted  by 
influential  persons  in  the  country  as  explanatory  of  their  occur- 
rence. I  remember,  Sir,  that  when  I  first  came  into  Parlia- 
ment— thirty  years  ago  now,  and  something  more  I  am  sorry 
to  say — the  state  of  Ireland  was  most  unsatisfactory ;  and  then 
it  was  commonly  alleged  that  it  was  in  a  great  degree  to  be 
attributed  to  what  was  called  the  maladministration  of  justice, 
and  the  conduct  of  high  persons  on  the  judicial  bench  was  im- 
pugned and  defended  in  this  House,  and  recriminations  were 
indulged  in  with  all  the  animosity  of  party  conflict.  Well,  no 
one  can  pretend  now  that  the  scenes  of  outrage  which  extend 
over  a  considerable  portion  of  Ireland  can  be  attributed  to  the 
maladministration  of  justice.  For  the  last  ten  years — I  may 
say  twenty  and  even  more — the  administration  of  justice  in 
Ireland  has  been  as  just,  as  pure,  and  as  learned  as  in  this 
country ;  and  I  say  this,  well  knowing  that  those  who  sit  upon 
the  bench  in  Ireland  have,  in  the  majority  of  cases,  been 
appointed  by  the  party  opposite,  and  that  most  of  them  are 
members  of  the  Koman  Catholic  community.  Generally  speak- 
ing, too,  if  you  take  also  a  large  view  of  the  conduct  of  juries 
in  Ireland,  particularly  under  the  trying  circumstances  of  the 
last  few  years,  the  law  has  been  vindicated  by  them  with  courage 
and  loyalty.  Maladministration  of  justice,  then,  cannot  be 
alleged  to-day  as  the  cause  of  the  crime  and  outrage  which 
prevail  in  Ireland  at  this  moment.  Another  cause  which  used 
to  be  alleged  was  religious  dissension.  People  said — '  What  can 
you  expect  from  a  country  where  you  allow  the  minority  of  the 
people  great  privileges  in  respect  of  their  religion,  and  permit 


318  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

ecclesiastical  inequalities  to  exist  ?  Put  an  end  to  the  Protestant 
ascendency  which  you  support  with  so  much  zeal,  and  you  will 
put  an  end  to  these  disorders.' 

Keligious  dissension  was  very  generally  received  as  the  cause 
of  the  disorders  and  disturbances  of  Ireland;  but  that  plea 
cannot  be  urged  now.  The  Protestant  population  of  Ireland 
now  possess  no  exclusive  privileges,  their  church  has  been 
despoiled  and  her  prelates  have  been  degraded.  You  have 
established  certainly  in  theory  ecclesiastical  equality,  though  I 
fear  in  practice  it  will  be  found  that  those  who  were  lately  in 
possession  of  those  privileges  will  hardly  rise  to  the  level  of 
those  who  are  now  considered  in  theory  their  equals.  But  no 
one  can  any  longer  say  that  it  is  Protestant  ascendency  which 
is  the  cause  of  these  horrible  disorders.  Well,  during  the  long 
discussions  which  have  occurred  in  this  House  now  for  so  many 
years  a  third  reason  has  been  frequently  alleged  as  the  true 
cause  of  the  disturbed  state  of  Ireland,  and  that  was  a  seditious 
priesthood.  Now,  I  am  not  going  to  maintain  that  things  have 
not  been  said  and  things  have  not  been  done  by  isolated  mem- 
bers of  the  Roman  Catholic  priesthood  of  late,  which  every  man 
of  sense  and  honour  on  both  sides  of  the  House  must  reprobate  ; 
but  we  know  that  the  great  body  of  the  priesthood  is  arrayed 
in  support  of  Her  Majesty's  Government,  and  therefore  it 
cannot  be  alleged  that  a  seditious  priesthood  is  the  cause  of 
Ireland's  trouble.  The  Roman  Catholic  congregations  are  ex- 
horted from  the  altar  to  uphold  the  ministry  of  the  right 
honourable  gentleman,  and  I  am  told  that  even  amid  the  per- 
plexities of  the  oecumenical  councils,  right  reverend  prelates 
have  found  time  and  opportunity  to  despatch  canvassing  letters 
to  the  hustings  of  Longford  and  Tipperary. 

Then  we  have  sometimes  been  told  that  all  those  outrageous 
occurrences  which  periodically  happen  in  Ireland  are  solely 
occasioned  by  an  organised  system  of  agitation  conducted  by 
individuals  who  made  agitation  profitable.  *  Get  rid  of  agita- 
tors,' we  were  told, '  and  you  will  soon  find  Ireland  tranquil  and 
content.'  That  appears  to  have  been  the  opinion  of  a  right 
honourable  gentleman  who  is  a  member  of  the  administration  ; 
for  I  observed  that  in  addressing  his  constituents  lately  h( 


SPEECH  ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY   1870.  31 9- 

informed  them  that  the  condition  of  Ireland  at  this  moment,  in 
respect  of  all  its  crimes  and  outrages,  was  the  consequence  of 
the  desperate  condition  of  the  Irish  agitators.  He  told  them 
that  these  mischievous  men  are  up  in  arms  because  they  know 
a  ministry  is  now  in  office  which  is  resolved  to  carry  measures 
to  put  an  end  to  their  profession ;  and  he  admitted,  with  his 
characteristic  candour,  that  if  there  had  not  been  a  change  of 
Government  it  is  not  all  impossible  that  the  agitators,  inter- 
ested in  always  maintaining  a  grievance,  would  have  permitted 
Ireland,  under  the  late  administration,  to  be  tranquil  and 
content.  Now,  I  must  say,  it  strikes  me  as  the  most  remark- 
able circumstance  in  the  present  condition  of  Ireland,  that  she 
is  agitated  without  agitators.  Of  course  at  such  a  critical 
period  like  the  present  a  good  many  of  the  old  hands  have 
appeared,  and  there  is  no  doubt  they  thought  the  time  was 
come  when,  to  use  a  classical  Liberal  expression,  they  could  carry 
on  a  '  roaring  trade '  in  the  way  of  agitation.  But  the  most 
curious  thing  I  have  observed  in  the  course  of  events  in  Ireland 
during  the  last  twelve  months  is  that  the  agitators,  mean- in 
station,  not  very  distinguished  in  ability,  have  invariably  con- 
trived to  be  on  the  unpopular  side.  Although  the  state  of 
Ireland  has  been  such  that,  now  for  a  considerable  period,  once 
in  every  week  some  deplorable  outrage  has  been  perpetrated,  I 
must  do  the  agitators  the  justice  to  say  that,  in  my  opinion, 
none  of  these  acts  can  be  fairly  ascribed  to  them. 

Again,  all  must  agree  that  there  have  been  moments  in  the 
history  of  Ireland  when  disorders  and  disturbances  there  could 
be  traced  and  attributed  to  the  influence  of  a  foreign  country. 
Notably  at  the  beginning  of  this  century — or,  probably  to  speak 
with  greater  accuracy,  I  ought  to  say  at  the  end  of  the  last 
century — there  were  Irish  traitors  residing  in  France,  in  direct 
alliance  with  the  French  Republic,  who  threatened  and  did 
certainly  accomplish  the  invasion  of  Ireland  ;  and  this  foreign 
influence  was  undoubtedly  the  main  cause  of  the  disturbances 
in  Ireland.  And  recently,  within  our  own  immediate  ex- 
perience, some  of  our  Irish  fellow-countrymen,  who  are 
alienated  in  feeling  and  sentiment,  have,  in  another  republic — 
the  republic  of  America — by  peculiar  means  exercised  a  foreign 


320  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

and  disturbing  influence  upon  Ireland.  We  should  be,  I  think, 
glad  to  admit,  and  proud  to  remember,  that  the  same  thing  can 
never  be  said  of  the  American  republic  which  was  justly  said  of 
the  French  Government — that  they  ever  for  a  moment 
•tolerated,  sanctioned,  or  encouraged  the  Fenian  conspiracy.  1 
speak  of  course  only  so  far  as  my  own  experience  extends  ;  but 
to  that  extent,  I  say  that  the  conduct  of  the  American  Govern- 
ment was  marked  by  a  spirit  of  honour  and  political  integrity. 
But,  no  doubt,  the  Irish  in  America  have  had  the  means  of 
founding  associations  and  of  acting  on  the  opinions  of  the 
population  of  Ireland.  Accordingly,  there  is  no  doubt  that  in 
these  two  instances  foreign  influence  produced  these  disorders. 
Now  with  regard  to  the  Fenian  conspiracy  which  some  little 
time  ago  was  alleged  as  the  cause  of  these  disturbances,  I  must 
express  my  own  opinion — I  have  expressed  that  opinion  before, 
and  its  accuracy  has  been  challenged ;  but  at  least,  it  is  an 
opinion  formed  after  considerable  thought,  with  some  responsi- 
bility, and  with  some  means  of  arriving  at  an  adequate  conclu- 
sion. And  the  opinion  which  I  so  expressed  was  that  the 
Fenian  conspiracy  was  of  foreign  growth.  Under  the  Govern- 
ment of  the  Duke  of  Abercorn,  that  conspiracy  was  in  my 
•opinion  completely  broken  and  baffled. 

That  happened  in  America  which  happened  in  Europe 
after  the  Thirty  Years'  War.  In  America,  as  in  Germany,  the 
majority  of  the  people,  on  both  sides  of  the  important  ques- 
tions then  at  issue,  were  actuated  by  high  principles.  But 
'there  were  naturally  a  great  number  of  military  adventurers 
who  mingled  in  the  fray,  and  who,  when  peace  was  unex- 
pectedly brought  about,  wished  to  employ  their  military  know- 
ledge and  experience  to  some  purpose.  And  the  Irish,  who 
are  a  military  nation,  had  in  the  American  army  a  great  many 
of  their  race.  But  it  is  an  error  to  suppose  that  the  scheme 
of  invading  Ireland  and  establishing  a  republic  in  that  country 
was  confined  to  Irishmen.  If  the  projected  Fenian  army  had 
taken  the  field,  the  commander,  and,  I  believe  the  second  in 
=command,  would  neither  of  them  been  Irishmen,  nor,  so  far  as 
I  am  informed,  Roman  Catholics.  The  result  of  that  con- 
spiracy was  that,  baffled  in  every  way,  with  all  their  schemes 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBKUARY    1870.  321 

thwarted,  they  found,  when  they  came  really  to  the  pinch  of 
the  question,  that  both  parties  to  the  plot  had  been  deceived. 
The  military  adventurers  could  not  count,  as  they  had  been 
led  to  believe  they  could  do,  upon  an  armed  nation  rising  to 
receive  them ;  and  that  part  of  the  Irish  nation  which  sympa- 
thised with  the  conspiracy  was  disappointed  at  the  inadequate 
means  with  which  these  great  intentions  were  proposed  to  be 
accomplished.  Hence  between  the  two  parties  there  arose 
feelings  of  suspicion  and  disgust.  And,  notwithstanding  all 
that  we  have  heard,  I  do  not  believe  that  there  is  any  reason 
for  now  tracing  the  disordered  state  of  Ireland  to  Fenian 
machinations.  I  have  ventured  to  mention  five  causes  which, 
during  many  years,  have  been  brought  forward  as  accounting 
for  the  disorders  and  disturbances  which  periodically  occur  in 
Ireland ;  and  I  say  that  they  are  all  obsolete  or  non-existing 
as  regards  the  present  state  of  affairs. 

There  is,  I  admit,  a  sixth  and  a  final  cause  which  must  be 
noticed,  which  has  been  alleged  on  previous  occasions — and 
that  is  the  tenure  of  land.  The  tenure  of  land  is  also  now 
mentioned  as  the  cause  of  the  discontent  and  dissatisfaction  of 
Ireland ;  but  the  tenure  of  land  in  Ireland  is  the  same  as  it 
was  at  the  Union,  except  that  it  has  been  modified  in  some 
degree,  and  always  to  the  advantage  of  the  occupier.  At 
any  rate  the  tenure  of  land  is  the  same  now  as  it  was  when 
Lord  Carlisle  governed  Ireland,  and  it  must  be  the  same  as 
when  the  Duke  of  Abercorn  governed  Ireland.  But  the  tenure 
then  did  not  produce  these  scenes  of  disorder  and  outrage 
which  have  excited  the  fears  and  attention  of  the  whole  nation 
for  a  year,  and  which  are  now  mentioned  in  Her  Majesty's 
Speech.  It  seems  that  has  happened  in  political  affairs  which 
is  said  to  be  impossible  in  physical  affairs — namely,  sponta- 
neous combustion.  The  Irish  people — that  is  to  say,  a  great 
portion  of  the  Koman  Catholic  population  in  Ireland — have 
rushed  into  a  riotous  hallucination.  They  have  suddenly 
assumed  that  a  great  change  was  about  to  occur  in  their  con- 
dition— a  change  which,  if  it  should  be  accomplished,  would 
weaken  and  perhaps  destroy  the  amount  of  civilisation  which 
VOL.  II.  Y 


322  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

they  already  possess,  and  which,  if  carried  to  its  last  conse- 
quences, would  resolve  society  into  its  original  elements. 

I  want  to  know  what  is  the  reason  that  this  great  portion 
of  the  Irish  people  has  suddenly  indulged  in  the  wild  dreams 
that  have  led  to  this  wild  and  evil  action  ?  It  cannot  be  the 
policy  of  the  ministry.  However  we  may  differ  as  to  the 
measures  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  with  respect  to  Ireland, 
there  is  no  doubt  that  their  policy  as  regards  the  Koman 
Cntholic  portion  of  the  population  is  a  conciliatory  policy. 
Her  Majesty's  Government  announced  their  intention  to  re- 
dress all  the  injuries  of  the  Roman  Catholic  population,  to 
remove  all  the  abuses  of  which  they  have  long  complained,  and 
under  which  they  have  suffered,  and  generally  to  ameliorate 
their  condition.  The  announcement  of  such  a  policy  could 
not  have  brought  about  the  wild  and  destructive  conduct  of 
which  we  are  now  all  complaining.  The  truth  seems  this — 
the  Irish  people  have  misinterpreted  the  policy  of  the  Govern- 
ment. They  have  put  a  false  interpretation  on  the  policy  of 
the  Government ;  they  have  considered  that  the  Government 
meant  to  do  something  different  from  that  which  I  assume, 
and  shall  always  believe,  it  is  the  intention  of  the  Government 
to  do.  But  I  want  to  know  this :  Were  the  Irish  people  justi- 
fied in  the  erroneous  interpretation  which  they  put  on  the 
avowed  policy  of  the  Government ;  and  if  they  fell  into  the 
dangerous  error  of  misinterpreting  that  policy,  did  the  Govern- 
ment take  all  the  steps,  or  any  of  the  steps,  that  were  neces- 
sary to  remove  that  false  impression  and  to  guide  the  mind  of 
the  Irish  people  to  a  right  conception  of  the  state  of  affairs, 
and  a  due  appreciation  of  the  intentions  of  the  Govern- 
ment ? 

It  is  unnecessary  for  me  to  dilate  on  the  Irish  policy  of 
Her  Majesty's  Government ;  whatever  may  be  its  merits  in  the 
opinion  of  some,  or  its  errors  in  the  opinion  of  others,  there 
is  one  point  on  which  I  think  we  must  all  agree,  that  it  has 
been  expressed  on  the  part  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  with 
the  utmost  frankness  and  explicitness.  The  right  honourable 
gentleman  opposite,  when  he  was  in  a  scarcely  less  responsible 
position  than  the  one  he  now  occupies,  at  a  time  when  he  was 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY   1870.  323 

•a  candidate  for  the  highest  post  in  the  country,  challenging 
the  confidence  of  his  Sovereign  and  of  his  country  upon  his 
Irish  policy,  and  speaking,  no  doubt,  with  a  sense  of  responsi- 
bility not  less  than  that  with  which  he  would  speak  now,  told 
us  what  his  view  of  the  Irish  question,  as  it  was  called,  really 
was.  He  stated  that  the  state  of  Ireland  was  to  be  attributed 
to  Protestant  ascendency,  and  that  his  policy  was  to  put  an  end 
to  Protestant  ascendency.  Nothing  could  be  clearer,  more 
frank,  or  more  explicit.  Protestant  ascendency,  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  said,  was  at  the  bottom  of  all  the  dis- 
orders and  all  the  grievances  and  misery  of  Ireland ;  it  was  a 
tree  which  had  produced  three  branches  which  1  shall  call — 
not  in  the  language  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman,  but  in 
accordance  with  his  meaning — branches  of  predominant  per- 
niciousness,  extending  into  the  Church,  the  land,  and  the 
•education  of  the  country.  That  was  the  declaration  made  to 
England  and  to  Ireland.  England  cannot  complain  of  the 
conduct  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman,  because  that  policy 
was  announced  before.  The  general  election,  and  the  vote  of 
the  English  constituencies,  ratified  the  determination  of  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  to  insure  the  destruction  of  Pro- 
testant ascendency  in  Ireland. 

But  now,  what  have  been  the  two  great  causes  of  excitement 
and  disorder  in  Ireland  ?  There  have,  no  doubt,  been  several, 
but  there  were  two  which  were  prominent  last  year.  One  was 
a  desire  to  free  the  political  prisoners,  and  the  other  a  demand 
to  transfer  the  property  of  one  class  to  another  class.  Those 
were  really  the  two  great  causes.  Now,  unfortunately,  from 
some  observations  made  first  in  the  course  of  debates  in  this 
House,  but  afterwards  dwelt  upon  and  amplified  elsewhere,  the 
public  mind,  not  only  of  Ireland,  but  also  of  England,  had 
been  led  to  believe  that  Her  Majesty's  Government  in  some 
way  connected  the  destruction  of  the  Protestant  Church  with 
the  Fenian  conspiracy.  It  was  generally  understood  to  be  the 
opinion  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  that  the  Fenian  con- 
spiracy, if  it  had  not  entirely  occasioned,  at  all  events  pre- 
cipitated the  fall  and  decided  the  fate  of  the  Protestant  Church 
in  Ireland.  When  the  Government  of  the  right  honourable 

T   2 


324  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EAEL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

gentleman  was  formed  there  was  a  desire  exhibited  by  that 
portion  of  the  Irish  people  who  were  then  apparently  his 
supporters — that  is,  not  by  those  who  professed  the  Protestant 
religion,  and  who  viewed  the  conduct  of  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  with  alarm,  but  by  the  mass  of  the  Koman  Catholic 
population  of  that  country — to  receive  the  Government  of  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  with  favour ;  and  they  agitated  the 
country  in  no  unfriendly  spirit  upon  the  two  subjects  I  have 
named.  It  is  of  importance,  in  clearly  understanding  the 
condition  of  Ireland  at  this  moment,  that  the  House  should 
discriminate  between  the  way  in  which  the  freedom  of  the 
prisoners,  for  instance,  was  advocated  in  the  beginning  of  the 
year  by  some  persons  in  Ireland,  and  the  mode  in  which  it  was 
agitated  towards  the  close  of  the  year. 

The  House  will  remember  that  when  we  assembled  last 
year  a  remarkable  and  dramatic  scene  took  place.  The  Lord 
Mayor  and  Corporation  of  Dublin  presented  themselves  at  the 
bar  with  a  petition  to  Parliament.  In  their  petition  they 
requested  us  to  support  the  church  policy  of  the  right  honour- 
able gentleman — a  policy  which  might  be  regarded  as  a  foregone 
conclusion,  and  about  the  success  of  which,  though  there  might 
be  some  question  about  the  details,  there  could  be  no  doubt. 
But  in  that  petition,  couched  in  a  friendly  spirit,  with  the  view 
of  making  Her  Majesty's  Cfovernment  popular  in  Ireland,  they 
also  urged  that  an  amnesty  should  be  granted  to  the  Fenian 
prisoners.  I  have  received  some  Irish  deputations  in  my  time, 
and  I  thought  I  saw  at  the  bar  some  faces  that  I  recollected. 
To  be  historically  correct,  I  ought  to  add  that  the  completeness 
of  their  Irish  policy  was  that  the  Government  should  purchase 
all  the  Irish  railroads  and  immediately  reduce  the  tariff  for 
passengers  and  goods.  That  was  their  policy  then.  The  Lord 
Mayor  and  the  Corporation  of  Dublin  were  the  supporters  of 
Her  Majesty's  Government.  They  came  in  a  friendly  spirit, 
and  in  asking  for  an  amnesty  for  the  Fenian  prisoners  they 
believed  that  they  were  supporting  the  Government.  But 
what  happened  ?  No  doubt  there  is  no  more  difficult  question 
for  a  minister  of  a  constitutional  State  to  decide  than  that  of 
granting  an  amnesty  to  political  offenders.  It  is  much  more 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY    1870.  325 

difficult  for  a  minister  of  a  constitutional  State  than  it  is  for 
the  minister  of  a  State  where  what  is  known  as  '  personal  rule  ' 
prevails.  In  such  countries  there  are  revolutions,  strokes  of 
State,  and  other  manoeuvres  which  continually  render  it  neces- 
sary that,  without  much  inquiry  or  discrimination,  large  bodies 
of  subjects  should  be  imprisoned ;  and  as  it  is  of  course  very 
inconvenient  to  keep  thousands  of  subjects  in  prison — and 
very  expensive — when  order  is  restored  and  tranquillity  can  be 
depended  upon,  the  throwing  open  of  the  prison  doors  and 
releasing  the  prisoners  is  a  convenient  way  of  celebrating  the 
birthday  of  the  Sovereign  or  the  marriage  of  his  son  or 
daughter. 

But  in  a  constitutional  country  it  is  entirely  different.  A 
political  prisoner,  generally  speaking,  cannot  be  imprisoned 
without  his  guilt  having  been  proved  to  the  satisfaction  of  a 
jury  of  his  countrymen ;  and  even  under  the  rare  circumstances 
in  which  a  man  in  a  free  country  may  be  arrested  and  im- 
prisoned without  being  condemned  by  a  verdict  of  a  jury,  still, 
if  there  be  a  suspension  of  the  Habeas  Corpus  Act,  it  is  sus- 
pended with  the  free  will  of  Parliament,  and  its  suspension  is 
under  the  vigilance  and  control  not  only  of  Parliament  but  of 
a  free  press.  It  may,  therefore,  be  fairly  assumed  that  political 
offenders  in  this  country  are  in  a  very  different  position,  in 
regard  both  to  the  merits  of  their  conduct  and  to  the  compara- 
tive sufferings  they  endure,  from  the  political  prisoners  who 
by  squads  and  battalions  are  immured  in  dungeons  in  countries 
where  no  constitutional  rights  are  in  existence.  Therefore,  it 
is  the  most  difficult  of  all  duties  to  decide  upon  the  question  of 
an  amnesty  in  a  constitutional  country.  As  a  general  principle, 
though  I  do  not  say  it  is  one  from  which  you  should  never 
deviate,  an  amnesty,  if  there  is  to  be  one,  should  be  complete. 
Now,  what  was  the  conduct  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  ? 
Her  Majesty's  Government  responded  to  the  friendly  invitation 
of  the  Lord  Mayor  of  Dublin,  and  people  of  that  kind — -I  mean 
those  friends  who  were,  to  use  a  barbarous  expression,  '  ventila- 
ting '  the  question,  in  order  to  get  support  and  popularity  for 
the  Government — by  deciding  upon  a  partial  amnesty.  Now, 
let  us  see  what  were  the  inevitable  consequences  of  a  partial 


326      SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

amnesty.  You  had  a  paper  placed  upon  the  table  last  year, 
which  gives  some  account  of  the  prisoners  who  were  freed  under 
the  partial  amnesty.  Now,  who  were  the  first  three  men  thus 
freed  ?  Men  who  had  been  found  guilty  of  high  treason,  and 
whose  sentence  of  death  had  been  commuted  into  one  of  im- 
prisonment. With  that  commutation  I  am  not  here  to  find 
fault.  Possibly  I  may  myself  share  its  responsibility,  but  this 
I  will  say — that  when  the  Government  of  which  I  was  a 
member,  had  to  deal  with  questions  of  this  kind,  and  we  had 
to  assert  the  majesty  of  the  law  and  to  establish  order  and 
tranquillity,  no  one  can  accuse  us  of  vindictive  conduct  in  the 
punishments  we  retained.  Now,  the  effect  of  releasing  these 
three  men,  who  had  incurred  the  severest  penalty  of  the  law, 
and  whose  sentence  of  death  had  already  been  commuted  to 
imprisonment,  was  that  others  who  had  a  brother,  a  son,  or  a 
sweetheart,  perhaps,  in  prison,  naturally  complained  that  those 
whose  conduct  had  incurred  the  penalty  of  death  should  be 
released,  while  those  whose  crimes  were  not  so  great  should 
still  be  detained  in  prison.  On  the  part  of  the  Government  it 
was  urged  that  they  must  exercise  some  discretion,  and  that,, 
in  considering  the  case  of  these  prisoners,  they  determined  to 
free  those  in  whose  harmlessness  they  were  pretty  confident 
and  secure,  and  that  none  were  let  out  but  those  who  could  do 
the  State  no  injury. 

Well,  now,  was  that  the  fact  ?  Look  at  the  next  three  men 
who  were  let  out.  They  were  three  men  who  had  incurred 
long  terms  of  imprisonment,  from  twelve  to  fifteen  years,  men 
of  decided  opinions  and  violent  conduct,  not  one  of  whom  had 
ever  given  the  slightest  sign  of  penitence.  One  was  an  able 
writer.  He  emerged  from  his  cell  and  immediately  wrote  a 
leading  article  against  the  Government,  calling  upon  his  fellow-  I 
countrymen  to  commence  their  efforts  to  free  themselves  from 
the  slavery  under  which  they  had  so  long  laboured.  Another 
of  them — and  that  is  a  mysterious  case,  which  may  by  and  by 
be  brought  under  the  consideration  of  Parliament — went  to  a 
banquet  and  made  use  of  his  liberty  to  excite  Irishmen — they 
say  he  was  not  an  Irishman  himself — to  violence,  and  he  told 
them  that  the  sabre  was  the  only  solution  of  their  sufferings. 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY   1870.  327 

Well,  then,  I  say  the  great  body  of  Koman  Catholics  of  Ireland 
who  had  relatives  in  prison  naturally  felt  indignant.  They 
regarded  this  partial  amnesty  as  a  most  ill-considered  act. 
These  people  who  before  were  unhappy  in  the  fate  of  their 
relatives — who  no  doubt  felt  that  they  were  unfortunate,  and 
that  they  did  not  deserve  their  doom — began  now  to  smart 
under  a  great  sense  of  injustice.  They  said — '  You  have  let 
out  men,  some  sentenced  to  death,  others  to  long  periods  of 
imprisonment,  who  immediately  use  the  liberty  you  have  given 
them  to  excite  hostility  against  the  Crown  and  to  create  sedi- 
tion in  the  country.  But  our  relatives  are  still  immured,  who 
have  not  been  convicted  of  offences  so  heinous,  or  incurred 
sentences  so  heavy.'  Well,  what  happened  ?  The  feeling  for 
the  Fenian  prisoners,  which  was  at  first  got  up  rather  to  assist 
the  Government  than  not,  became  a  great  national  sentiment, 
and  culminated  at  last  in  an  incident  which  has  been  referred 
to  with  solemnity  this  evening,  an  incident  most  humiliating 
to  the  Government,  and  stimulating  to  violence  and  disturb- 
ance, and  other  classes  of  crime.  The  country  was  raised  to  a 
high  degree  of  excitement  when  it  was  most  important  that  it 
should  be  appeased  and  kept  quiet.  I  said  just  now  that  you 
must  remember  this — that  the  great  body  of  the  Koman 
Catholic  population,  without  being  Fenian  themselves,  may 
justly  sympathise  with  the  Fenians. 

Let  me  explain  this,  for  it  is  important  the  House 
should  bear  it  in  mind.  The  people  of  Ireland  had  been  told, 
now  for  a  great  many  years,  that  the  Protestant  Church  in 
Ireland  was  a  body  of  conquest.  They  had  been  assured  that 
it  was  an  enduring  testimony  of  their  ignominious  position  as 
a  nation,  and  that  though  these  might  not  seem  its  immediate 
effects,  it  was  indirectly  the  cause  of  all  the  humiliation  and 
discontent  of  the  country.  Now,  when  the  great  body  of  the 
Roman  Catholic  population  found  that  the  badge  of  conquest 
was  destroyed,  and,  at  the  same  time,  that  it  was  in  consequence 
of  Fenianism  that  they  were  rid  of  that  which  they  had  been 
educated  to  believe  a  badge  of  conquest  and  a  source  of  in- 
famy, was  it  not  very  natural,  without  being  Fenians  them- 
selves, that  they  should  evince  some  sympathy  for  the  Fenian 


328  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAEL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

prisoners  ?  For  they  naturally  reasoned :  *  It  is  not  necessary 
for  us  to  vindicate  their  conduct  in  making  war  on  Her 
Majesty,  of  whom  we  are  willing  to  be  the  dutiful  subjects  ; 
but  we  have  the  highest  authority  in  the  land  to  lead  us  to 
believe  that  if  they  had  not  committed  these  crimes  we  should 
not  have  been  released  from  this  enduring  badge  of  our  servi- 
tude and  humiliation.  And,  surely,  if  ever  there  was  an  occa- 
sion when  bygones  should  be  bygones,  it  is  this,  when  there 
has  been  a  change  of  Ministry  to  carry  into  effect  the  avowed 
consequences  of  Fenianism.'  The  people  naturally  thought 
that  with  the  destruction  of  the  Protestant  Church  the  offences 
of  these  men  ought  to  be  condoned.  That  is  the  reason  why 
you  have  such  a  strong  feeling  among  the  Irish  people  on 
behalf  of  the  Fenians,  and  that  is  the  real  cause  why  you  have 
had  all  this  terrible  excitement  in  Ireland,  and  why  you  have 
been  called  upon  to  do  an  act  which  would  be  a  blow  to  all 
government — namely,  without  security  and  on  no  intelligible 
plea  suddenly  to  open  the  gates  of  all  the  prisons  of  the  country 
and  free  men  who  were  condemned  by  the  solemn  verdict  of 
juries,  and  after  trials,  the  justice  and  impartiality  of  which 
have  certainly  never  been  impugned,  even  by  the  Fenians 
themselves. 

So  much  for  one  of  the  two  great  causes  which  have 
brought  about  this  condition  of  Ireland.  So  far  as  I  can  form 
an  opinion  upon  the  facts  as  they  appear  to  us,  it  seems  to  me 
that  one  of  the  great  causes  of  the  excitement  in  Ireland,  of  the 
spirit  of  turbulence,  discontent,  and  disloyalty  which  have  been 
rampant  during  the  last  twelve  months,  is  to  be  attributed  to 
the  Government  with  regard  to  the  Fenian  prisoners. 

And  now  let  me  ask  the  House  to  consider  the  other  cause. 
The  agitation  in  Ireland  has  been  for  two  things  :  to  free  the 
political  prisoners,  upon  which  I  have  already  touched  ;  and  in 
the  second  place — it  is  better  to  state  it  in  plain  language — 
virtually  to  transfer  the  property  of  one  class  to  another.  Now 
let  us  see  what  has  happened  with  respect  to  that.  Let  us 
inquire  what  excuse,  what  reason,  there  is  for  the  erroneous 
interpretation  which  the  people  of  Ireland  have  put  on  the 
intentionally  beneficent  policy  of  the  right  honourable  gentle- 


SPEECH  ON  ADDKESS,  FEBKUAEY   1870.  329 

man.     Now,  I  apprehend  that  they  reason  in  this  manner : — 
The  policy  of  the  Government  is  to  put  an  end  to  Protestant 
ascendency.     That  there  is  no  mistake  about ;  we  have  it  on 
the  highest  authority.     Then  they  would  go  on  to  say : — '  It  is 
the  cause  of  all  our  miseries,  but  its  three   most  enormous 
products  are  the  Protestant  Church,  the  tenure  of  land,  and 
the  present  system  of  education.'     We  all  know  how  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  has  dealt  with  the  Protestant  Church. 
It  was  not  necessary  for  the  people  of  Ireland  to  wait  until  the 
termination  of  the  last  session   of  Parliament   to  know   the 
policy  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  on  this  subject,  be- 
cause, at  the  beginning  of  the  session,  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  was  pledged  to  the  destruction  of  the  Protestant 
Church.     Therefore,  so  far  as  the  formation  of  public  opinion 
among  the  Irish  people  was  concerned,  from  the  beginning 
of  last  session  they  took  it  as  a  foregone  conclusion,  as   an 
accomplished  fact,  that  the  Irish  Church  was  abolished.     Well, 
they  reasoned  in  this  way  : — '  The  Irish'  Church  is  abolished. 
The  bishops  and  rectors  are  deprived  of  their  property.     The 
next  grievance,  according  to  the  same  high  authority,  is  the 
land.     Is  it  not  a  natural  consequence  that  if  you  settle  the 
question  of  the   Irish  Church  by  depriving  the  bishops  and 
rectors  of  their  property,  you  will  settle  the  question  of  the 
land  by  depriving  the  landlords  of  their  property  ?     I  do  not 
say  that  this  is  the  policy  of  the  Government ;  I  do  not  say 
that  we  thought  that  was  the  policy  of  the  Government ;  but  I 
say  that  it  is  not  an  unnatural  inference  of  the  Irish  people. 
I  say  in  the  next  place  that  it  was  the  actual  inference  of  the 
Irish  people. 

There  could  be  no  mistake  about  it  in  Ireland,  because  a 
right  honourable  gentleman,1  too  short  a  time  a  member  of  this 
House,  now  the  Master  of  the  Kolls  in  Ireland,  on  his  appoint- 
ment by  the  new  Government  to  an  office  which,  as  far  as  the 
interest  of  the  country  was  concerned  at  the  particular  time,  was 
second  to  none — the  office  of  Attorney-General  for  Ireland — ad- 
dressed his  constituents,1  and  he  used  these  significant  terms — 
that  the  Prime  Minister  would  introduce  three  Bills,  one  about 

1  The  Right  Honourable  E.  Sullivan. 


330  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

the  Church,  one  about  the  land,  and  the  third  about  education  ; 
and  on  this  declaration  of  policy  he  was  elected.  Therefore, 
there  is  no  doubt  that  the  Irish  people  drew  the  inference  that 
the  same  policy  was  to  apply  to  the  land  as  to  the  Church. 
Now  I  will  give  a  proof  of  that.  In  1868  the  Irish  land  question 
occupied  the  attention  of  the  Government,  as  it  had  occupied 
for  some  time  the  attention  of  successive  Governments.  There 
was  a  desire,  I  must  say,  on  the  part  of  those  in  Ireland  who  had 
been  called  agitators,  and  who  had  been  very  much  abused,  to 
bring  it  to  some  settlement,  and  they  made  communications  to 
the  Grovernment.  Now  I  think  their  plan  was — first,  utterly 
irreconcilable  with  principle  ;  secondly,  that  it  would  have 
ultimately  aggravated  the  evils  it  was  intended  to  cure.  But 
throwing  these  great  objections  aside  for  a  moment,  it  was  not 
an  outrageous  proposition.  Those  who  had  taken  the  most 
active  part  with  regard  to  the  question  of  the  tenure  of  land  in 
Ireland,  those  societies  and  bodies  of  farmers  attended  a  meet- 
ing which  had  been  convened,  and  agreed  to  accept  what  was 
recommended  by  Mr.  Butt — namely,  a  lease  for  sixty-three 
years,  with  rents  fixed  at  the  Poor  Law  valuation  and  twenty 
per  cent,  added,  a  reassessment  to  be  made  at  the  end  of  the 
term,  and  the  improvements  to  be  then  given  to  the  landlord. 
I  will  not  enter  into  the  argument  now,  but  I  could  never  have 
sanctioned  that  proposition.  But,  though  it  may  have  been  an 
unwise  one,  everybody  will  admit  that  it  was  not  a  revolutionary 
proposition.  Well  that  was  in  1868.  But  the  moment  the 
agitation  arose  about  the  Irish  Church,  or  rather  at  the  period 
when  it  was  quite  clear  from  the  vote  of  this  House  that  the 
Irish  Church  was  doomed,  these  societies  and  bodies  of  farmers 
all  receded  from  that  engagement.  They  all  said  instantly— 
*  The  question  has  now  assumed  a  totally  different  aspect ;  we 
will  no  longer  be  bound  by  the  offer  that  we  made ' — and  which 
I  believe  they  made  in  all  sincerity — and  the  question  entered 
into  a  new  phase,  until  it  culminated  in  the  resolution  arrived 
at  by  the  meeting  of  Munster  farmers  when  they  declared  that 
nothing  short  of  perpetuity  of  tenure  would  be  satisfactory. 
Well,  is  it  not  clearly  demonstrated  that  they  did  expect  that 
an  analogous  policy  would  be  applied  to  the  land  to  that  which 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,  FEBRUARY   1870.  331 

was  applied  to  the  Church  ?  And  I  say,  was  there  not  ground 
for  the  false  interpretation  that  was  put  on  the  policy  of  the 
Grovernment  ?  And  what  steps  did  the  Government  then  take 
to  remove  that  false  impression  ?  Why,  Sir,  we  had  a  discus- 
sion on  this  head  last  year.  I  will  read  a  passage,  a  very  short 
one,  from  the  speech  of  a  noble  Lord,  who,  for  every  reason,  I 
regret  is  no  longer  a  member  of  this  House.  Lord  Stanley,  on 
the  30th  of  April,  1869,  addressing  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  the  First  Minister,  said  this  : 

'  What  we  want — and  it  is  for  that  purpose  alone  I  now  rise 
—is  to  obtain  from  the  Grovernment  a  declaration — it  need  not 
be  in  many  words,  but  I  hope  they  will  be  plain  and  distinct  - 
that,  while  on  the  one  hand,  the  claim  of  the  tenants  to  com- 
pensation shall  be  admitted  and  respected,  the  proprietary 
rights  of  the  landlords,  on  the  other  hand,  will  be  firmly  main- 
tained. Let  them  only  be  firm  upon  that  point — let  them  only 
act  upon  what  I  have  no  doubt  is  their  own  view  of  the  subject 
— let  them  only  maintain  the  law  calmly  and  resolutely,  and 
depend  upon  it  you  will  get  over  this  agitation,  as  you  have  got 
over  hundreds  of  similar  agitations.  But,  if  everything  is  to 
remain  in  a  state  of  obscurity  until  next  year,  if  the  Irish 
people  are  left  in  the  dark,  if  they  are  left,  unchecked  and  un- 
contradicted,  to  entertain  any  wild  fancies  upon  this  matter  that 
may  float  through  their  minds,  then  I  fear  that  the  present  ex- 
citement and  disturbance  will  continue,  and  will  even  increase ; 
and  in  that  case,  but  in  that  case  only.  I  will  say,  that  for 
what  may  occur  in  the  next  few  months  the  Executive  authority 
must  be  held  responsible '  (3  '  Hansard,'  cxcv.  2001-2). 

Lord  Stanley  sat  by  me  when  he  made  those  observations, 
and  they  had  my  entire  assent.  They  were  clear,  they  were 
firm,  they  were  temperate,  they  were  wise.  They  were  made 
in  April,  when  there  was  excitement,  disorder  in  Ireland — when 
there  had  even  been  some  dreadful  deeds  committed.  But, 
looking  at  what,  happened  at  the  end  of  the  summer  and 
throughout  the  autumn,  that  period  of  April  was  a  period  of 
comparative  tranquillity.  Now,  I  ask  the  House  to  consider 
this  question  calmly  and  impartially — Did  the  Grovernment, 
when  those  wild  misconceptions  and  excitement  prevailed  in 


332     SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

the  minds  of  the  great  body  of  Irish  people,  take  any  step 
to  enlighten  them,  to  guide  them  in  a  right  direction,  and 
to  avert  the  fearful  acts  which  have  been  their  consequence  ? 
Sir,  what  happened  in  Ireland  ?  Generally  speaking,  these 
farmers  of  ten  acres,  those  millions  of  peasants,  are  naturally 
influenced  by  the  example  of  leading  men  on  these  subjects. 
What  means  have  these  poor  people,  who  scarcely  ever  see  a 
newspaper  and  have  nothing  at  all  to  guide  them,  what  means 
have  they  of  forming  an  opinion  as  to  the  probable  course  and 
intentions  of  Parliament  or  of  ministers,  but  by  the  words  and 
the  conduct  of  those  who  are  leaders  in  the  society  to  which 
they  belong  ?  Now,  I  dp  not  say  that  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment are  responsible  for  the  words  or  the  conduct  of  the  hon- 
ourable member  for  Kilkenny  (Sir  John  Gray).  I  have  no 
doubt  that  honourable  gentleman  is  a  perfectly  independent 
member  of  Parliament ;  and  it  is  not  for  me  for  a  moment  to 
insinuate  that  Her  Majesty's  Government  are  responsible  for 
anything  that  he  says  or  does.  But  the  people  of  Ireland  know 
that  the  honourable  member  for  Kilkenny  has  great  confidence 
in  Her  Majesty's  Government ;  he  has  taken  every  opportunity 
of  expressing  it.  They  know  well  that  he  took  a  decided  line 
on  the  Irish  Church  question;  they  know,  or  at  least  they 
believe,  that  if  not  in  confidential,  he  was  in  friendly  communi- 
cation with  the  Prime  Minister  on  that  subject ;  and  they  know 
that  whenever  he  spoke  on  it  there  was  sympathy  from  official 
quarters  with  his  remarks  and  his  general  views.  They  know 
very  well,  moreover,  that  upon  his  general  views  Her  Majesty's 
Government  ultimately  acted.  I  take  the  honourable  member 
for  Kilkenny  to  be  a  fair  specimen  of  an  influential  and  bustling 
class  of  members  of  Parliament,  who  are  naturally  looked  up  to 
by  their  fellow-countrymen,  who  think  them  knowing  men  and 
acquainted  with  what  is  going  to  happen.  Well,  he  attends 
meetings,  makes  speeches,  moves  resolutions  on  the  land  ques- 
tion, and  speaks  with  all  the  authority  of  a  man  who  was  right 
on  the  Irish  Church  question ;  and  he  says  to  his  hearers :  '  We 
must  be  firm  ;  we  are  sure  to  get  what  we  want  if  we  are  firm ; 
but  nothing  must  satisfy  you  except  fixity  of  tenure.'  Is  it, 
then,  at  all  surprising  that  the  Irish  people  should  suppose  that 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY    1870.  33S 

by  the  same  course  as  they  got  rid  of  the  Protestant  Church, 
of  the  Protestant  bishops  and  rectors,  they  will  also  get  rid  of 
their  landlords  and  obtain  fixity  of  tenure  ?  But  there  were 
persons  of  more  exalted  position,  who  took  a  leading  part 
in  the  affairs  of  Ireland  during  the  last  year.  I  am  not 
going  to  make  the  Chief  Minister  responsible  for  the  con- 
duct of  a  lord  lieutenant  of  a  county,  who  may  have  his 
own  views,  and  may  act  upon  them.  He  may  be  independent 
and  may  be  imprudent,  but  a  Prime  Minister  is  always  in  con- 
fidential communication  with  Her  Majesty's  representatives  in 
every  place ;  and  if  Her  Majesty's  representative  happens  to 
be  not  only  a  Lord  Lieutenant  of  a  county,  but  also  a  strong 
partizan  and  supporter  of  the  Government,  it  is  quite  clear 
that  a  man  of  the  authority  of  the  present  Prime  Minister  need 
only  give  a  hint,  or  order  others  to  give  a  hint  to  a  Lord 
Lieutenant,  to  prevent  any  imprudent  or  violent  act  on  his  part.. 
But  what  do  the  Irish  people  see  ?  They  see  a  Lord  Lieutenant, 
a  knight  of  St.  Patrick,  calling  meetings,  attending  meetings, 
making  violent  speeches — I  should  say  incendiary  speeches — 
and  counselling  his  audience  to  call  upon  the  Government  to 
grant  to  Ireland  fixity  of  tenure,  that  is,  the  transfer  of  the  pro-, 
perty  of  class  to  another.  Well,  is  it  surprising  that  all  these 
circumstances  should  have  created  in  Ireland  another  and  a 
second  source  of  great  excitement  on  a  subject  so  much  calculated 
to  quicken  the  feelings  of  that  people  ?  In  connectipn  with 
these  incendiary  speeches,  let  me,  in  passing,  remind  the  House 
of  what  happened  many  years  ago  with  reference  to  one  of  the 
most  respectable  members  of  Parliament,  who  was  held  in  the 
highest  personal  esteem  by  both  sides  of  the  House.  When 
Sir  William  Verner,  at  an  obscure  local  dinner  gave  as  a  toast 
*  The  Battle  of  the  Diamond  ' — one  of  those  unhappy  conflicts, 
as  honourable  gentlemen  are  aware,  between  Roman  Catholics 
and  Protestants  in  the  worst  days  of  Irish  history — the  matter 
was  immediately  brought  before  Parliament,  and  I  am  not  sure 
that  the  Sovereign  was  not  advised  to  deprive  him  of  some 
honours  he  possessed.  I  am  speaking  from  memory  ;  but  was 
that  offence  of  Sir  William  Verner — and  I  would  not  extenuate 
it — more  outrageous  or  more  incendiary  than  the  allusion  of 


334  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

the  Queen's  representative  to  '  the  glories  of  Vinegar  Hill  ?  ' 
Let  us  see  what  occurred  in  Ireland  after  this  to  induce  the 
Irish  people  to  entertain  a  soberer  view  of  affairs.  There  were 
the  elections.  If  anything  can  elicit  opinion  it  is  an  election. 

Her  Majesty  was  advised  to  elevate  a  non-member  of  this 
House  (Colonel  Greville  Nugent)  to  the  peerage.  If  blood  and 
large  estate  qualify  for  that  great  post,  I  think  Her  Majesty 
was  wisely  advised ;  nor,  Sir,  as  far  as  I  am  concerned,  do  I 
object  at  all  to  see  the  son  of  that  noble  lord  (Captain  Greville 
Nugent)  his  successor  in  this  House.  But  he  could  not  come 
into  Parliament  without  expressing  the  opinions  which  he  came 
to  support,  namely,  that  he  was  in  favour  of  a  complete  am- 
nesty for  the  Fenian  prisoners,  and  for  fixity  of  tenure  in 
respect  to  Irish  land.  Of  course  Her  Majesty's  Government 
are  not  responsible  for  the  opinions  of  independent  members 
of  Parliament ;  but  as  the  honourable  member  for  Longford  is 
not  a  very  old  man,  the  poor  people  of  Ireland  may  be  pardoned 
for  thinking  that  he  would  not  be  offended  if  some  good  advice 
had  been  given  him  by  men  in  authority.  It  would  not  be 
unnatural  if  they  said,  '  Depend  upon  it  he  would  not  pledge 
.himself  to  the  emancipation  of  the  Fenians  and  to  fixity  of 
tenure  (which  is  the  transferring  of  one  man's  property  to 
another)  unless  he  knew  what  he  was  about.  They  made  his 
father  a  peer,  and  he  is  here  to  say  the  right  thing.' 

That  was  the  Longford  election,  and  I  think  the  circum- 
stances to  which  I  have  referred  were  calculated  to  mislead  the 
minds  of  the  people.  All  this  time,  while  the  minds  of  the 
people  were  so  much  misled,  and  such  a  degree  of  excitement 
was  added  to  that  which  had  existed  on  the  subject  of  the 
Fenian  prisoners,  deeds  of  outrage,  crime,  and  of  infinite 
turbulence  were  perpetrated  simultaneously,  and  I  believe  as  a 
necessary  consequence  of  that  misleading  of  the  public  mind. 
But  there  was  another  election,1  a  very  interesting  election, 
which  has  been  already  alluded  to,  to-night.  What  happened 
at  that  election  ?  There  was  a  gentleman  2  who  occupied  a  post 
of  trust  and  confidence  in  the  late  Whig  Administration,  of 
which  the  right  honourable  gentleman  opposite  (Mr.  Glad- 
stone) was  the  organ  in  this  House.  If  there  be  any  post 
1  Tipperary,  2  Mr.  Heron,  Q.C. 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY   1870.  335 

which  more  than  another  requires  discretion  and  prudence,  and 
which  more  than  another  requires  a  man  who  weighs  his  words, 
it  is  that  of  Law  Adviser  to  the  Castle.  Well,  the  gentleman 
who  had  filled  that  honourable  post  was,  I  will  not  say  the 
Government  candidate,  because  honourable  gentlemen  opposite 
might  blame  me  for  using  so  unconstitutional  a  phrase,  but 
the  only  candidate  who  came  forward  to  vindicate  the  policy  of 
the  Government,  and  to  support  them.  I  know  nothing  of  the 
green  scarf  which  he  is  said  to  have  worn,  but  I  think  it  highly 
probable  that  he  did  attire  himself  in  that  way ;  for  his  mind 
seems  thoroughly  permeated  with  that  hue  as  appears  from  all 
his  observations.  He  came  forward  as  the  advocate  of  the 
immediate  release  of  the  Fenian  prisoners,  and  gave  three 
cheers  for  the  people  in  prison,  a  most  remarkable  exhibition 
of  discretion  on  the  part  of  the  late  Law  Adviser  of  the  Castle. 
He  declared  himself  a  firm  supporter  of  fixity  of  tenure  in 
land.  Now,  Sir,  notwithstanding  the  reckless  manner  in  which 
the  late  Law  Adviser  of  the  Castle — who,  it  was  generally  sup- 
posed, was  going  to  be  something  greater  than  Law  Adviser  "to 
the  Castle  if  he  succeeded  in  securing  his  election — notwith- 
standing the  reckless  manner  in  which  he  pledged  himself  to 
his  intended  constituents — he  was  defeated.  He  was  defeated  l 
under  circumstances  which  we  shall  have  to  consider  in  the 
next  eight  and  forty  hours.  The  people  of  Ireland  had  to 
choose  between  a  sham  Fenian  and  a  real  Fenian,  and  it  is 
astonishing  what  a  preference  is  always  given  to  the  genuine 
article. 

But  now  I  must  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  what 
occurred  when  the  Government  candidate  was  defeated,  though 
he  had  pledged  himself  to  all  those  revolutionary  doctrines. 
All  this  time,  especially  from  the  period  when  Lord  Stanley 
delivered  those  observations  which  I  have  quoted,  horrible 
scenes  of  violence  had  been  occurring  in  Ireland,  but  the 
Government  would  never  move.  Landlords  were  shot  down 
like  game,  respectable  farmers  were  beaten  to  death  with 
sticks  by  masked  men ;  bailiffs  were  shot  in  the  back ;  police- 
men were  stabbed ;  the  High  Sheriff  of  a  county  going  to 
swear  in  the  grand  jury  was  fired  at  in  his  carriage  and  dan- 
By  O'Donovan  Rossa. 


335  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

gerously  wounded ;  households  were  blown  up,  and  firearms 
surreptitiously  obtained.  All  this  time  the  Government  would 
not  move ;  but  the  moment  the  Government  candidate  was 
defeated  on  the  hustings — a  Government  candidate  pledged  to 
confiscation — pledged  to  a  course  of  action  which  would  de- 
stroy all  civil  government — the  moment  that  occurred  there 
was  panic  in  the  Castle,  there  was  confusion  in  the  Council ; 
the  wires  of  Aldershot  were  agitated ;  troops  were  put  in 
motion,  sent  across  from  Liverpool  to  Dublin,  and  concentrated 
in  Waterford,  Tipperary,  and  Cork.  And  all  this  because  the 
candidate  who  was  prepared  to  support  the  Government  had 
lost  his  election. 

I  remember  one  of  Her  Majesty's  ministers  saying,  I  think 
last  year —  *  Anyone  can  govern  Ireland  with  troops  and  artil- 
lery.' So  it  seems ;  even  that  right  honourable  gentleman. 
But  I  will  not  further  notice  on  this  occasion  anything  that 
may  have  been  said  or  done  by  that  minister,  because  I  hear 
with  deep  regret  that  he  is  obliged  to  be  absent. 

Now,  I  ask  the  House  to  consider  whether  this  state  of 
things  has  not  resulted  from  an  erroneous  interpretation  which 
the  people  of  Ireland  have  put  on  the  avowed  policy  of  Govern- 
ment, and  from  the  circumstance  that  the  Government  have 
refrained  from  attempting  in  any  way  to  remove  the  miscon- 
ception; and  what  is  the  position  in  which  we  are  now  probably 
to  be  placed.     Her  Majesty's  Government  have  given  notice  of 
their  intention  to  bring  forward  in  a  few  days  a  measure  re- 
specting the  tenure  of  land  in  Ireland.     I  have  every  hope — I 
will  say  every  expectation — that  it  will  be  a  just  and  prudent 
measure.     If  so,  it  will  obtain  impartial  consideration  on  both 
sides  of  the  House,  and,  so  far  as   I  am   concerned,  it  will 
obtain  cordial  support.     I  apprehend  it  will  be  a  measure  that 
will  deal  with  all  necessary  points,  and  with  none  other ;  that 
it  will  contain  nothing  that  is  visionary  and  fantastic.     But  if 
it  be  a  measure  of  this  kind,  what  will  the  late  Law  Adviser  of 
the  Castle  say  ?     What  will  the  Earl  of  Granard,  Her  Majesty's 
representative,  Lord  Lieutenant  of  a  county,  and  Knight  of  St. 
Patrick  say  ?     Above  all,  what  will  the  honourable  member  for 
Kilkenny  say  ?     And  when  men   in  their   position — men  of 


SPEECH   ON   ADDRESS,   FEBRUARY   1870.  337 

intelligence  and  education — are  disappointed,  what  will  be  the 
feeling  among  the  great  body  of  the  Koman  Catholic  population 
of  Ireland  ?  What  will  be  the  feeling  of  the  farmers  and 
peasants  who  denounce  the  proposed  settlement  of  1868,  and 
who  said  at  their  last  great  meeting  that  nothing  but  perpe- 
tuity of  tenure  would  do,  because  that  was  a  word  about  which 
there  could  be  no  mistake  ?  Sir,  I  think  this  is  a  matter  of 
very  serious  consideration  for  the  House.  I  object  to  the 
position  taken  by  the  right  honourable  gentleman.  He  will 
excuse  me  if  I  say  that  on  this  point  the  language  in  the 
Speech  from  the  Throne  is  ambiguous  and  confused.  Are  we 
to  understand  that  no  measures  for  the  protection  of  life  and 
property  are  to  be  taken  until  these  Bills  have  been  passed, 
and  the  effects  of  them  have  been  felt  in  Ireland  ?  If  that  is 
the  case  we  may  be  prepared  for  a  scene  of  disorder  and  dis- 
turbance in  that  country  such  as  has  never  before  been  ex- 
perienced, and  such  as  we  shall  find  great  difficulty  in  success- 
fully encountering.  The  mention  of  Ireland  in  the  Queen's 
Speech  is  to  me  inadequate  and  inaccurate. 

I  may  be  asked  by  the  right  honourable  gentleman,  '  If 
that  be  your  opinion  why  do  you  not  move  an  amendment  on 
the  Address,  and  give  us  what  you  conceive  to  be  an  adequate 
and  accurate  description  ?  '     I  believe  that  would  be  not  only 
unwise,  but  under   the    present   circumstances   of  the  case,  a 
most  improper  step  on  my  part.     If  we  are  to  have  a  Bill  on 
the  tenure  of  land  brought  in,  we  ought,  if  possible,  to  consider 
it  free  from  party  feelings,  and  with  the  anxious  desire,  not  to 
satisfy  the  wild  vagaries  of  the  Irish  people,  but  to  lay  the 
foundation  of  the   future   welfare  and  prosperity  of  Ireland. 
Then,  if  so,  I  can  imagine  nothing  more  unwise,  or  I  would 
say  unprincipled,  than  to  precipitate  a  party  division  on  such 
a  subject   only   a  few   days   before   the   introduction   of  the 
measure.     But  I  do  wish  to  impress  upon  the  House  the  great 
responsibility  which  they  incur  on  this  subject.     This  is  still  a 
new  House  of  Commons.     Men  have  entered  it  who  are  proud, 
and  justly  proud,  to  be  members  of  such  an  assembly ;  but  they 
may  depend  on  it  that  if  they  do  not  resolve  to  consider  the 
question  of  Irish  government,  not  only  in  a  large  but  in  a  firm 
VOL.  n.  z 


338 


SPEECHES   OF   THE   EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 


spirit ;  if  they  think  it  possible  that  the  spirit  and  sense  of  the 
people  of  England  will  long  endure  the  chronic  state  of  distur- 
bance that  now  prevails  in  Ireland,  they  are  much  mistaken. 
And  they  may  be  equally  certain  that  when  this  Parliament 
comes  to  a  conclusion,  which  they  have  entered  with  so  much 
pride  and  so  much  justifiable  self-complacency,  if  they  err  in  the 
course  they  take  on  this  question,  if  they  sanction  a  policy 
which,  if  unchecked,  must  lead  to  the  dismemberment  of  the 
empire,  and  even  to  the  partial  dissolution  of  society,  they  will 
look  back  on  the  day  they  entered  Parliament  with  very 
different  feelings  from  those  which  now  influence  them,  and 
they  will  remember  this  House  of  Commons  with  dismay  and 
remorse. 


339 


IRISH   LAND   BILL.     March  11,  1870.1 
(SECOND  READING.) 

[In  the  statement  that  by  giving  the  tenant  a  property  in  his 
occupation  '  you  terminate  at  one  fell  swoop  all  the  moral  relations 
between  the  owner  and  occupier/  is  to  be  found  the  gist  of  Mr. 
Disraeli's  objections  to  this  memorable  measure.  It  is  interesting  to 
compare  with  this  Mr.  Gladstone's  speech  2  on  introducing  the  Bill , 
from  which  we  must  infer  that  he  expected  it  to  develop  in  Ireland 
these  very  same  moral  relations  of  which  Mr.  Disraeli  speaks, 
and  which  with  some  exceptions  had  hitherto  been  confined  to 
England.] 

ME.  DISEAELI :  Sir,  we  are  called  upon  to  read  a  second 
time  a  Bill  to  amend  the  law  respecting  the  owners  and 
occupiers  of  land  in  Ireland.  It  is  not  an  agricultural  Bill ;  it 
is  a  political  Bill.  I  do  not  use  that  epithet  in  the  sense 
which  my  right  honourable  friend  the  member  for  the  Univer- 
sity of  Dublin  (Dr.  Ball)  used  it  some  few  nights  ago  in  his 
admirable  speech.  I  do  not  mean  to  say  that  it  is  a  revolu- 
tionary Bill ;  but  it  is  a  Bill  the  object  of  which  is,  not  to  im- 
prove the  cultivation  of  land,  but  to  improve  the  relations 
between  important  classes  of  Her  Majesty's  subjects.  Now, 
Sir,  a  minister  who  could  come  forward  and  propose  to  deal — 
to  meddle,  I  would  rather  say — with  the  relations  between  land- 
lord and  tenant,  wou'd  undertake  a  task  from  which  I  think 
the  most  experienced  and  most  resolute  man  would  shrink, 
unless  there  was  an  urgent  necessity  of  State  for  doing  it.  I 
myself  acknowledge  that  the  circumstances  of  Ireland  are  such 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Debates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

•  Hansard,  vol.  cxcix.  pp.  340,  351,  352. 

z  2 


,540  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

as  not  only  to  justify  the  minister,  but  to  call  upon  him  to  ask 
the  attention  of  Parliament  to  this  question,  and  invite  it  to 
come  to  some  decision  upon  it. 

Sir,  I  will  not  enter,  or  attempt  to  enter,  into  the  long 
catalogue  of  the  various  and  complicated  causes  which  have 
brought   Ireland,    so   far  as   the   relations   between    the   pro- 
prietor and  the  occupier  of  the  soil  are  concerned,  into  such 
a  position  that  it  becomes  the  duty  of  the  minister  and  of 
Parliament   to   legislate,   or   propose   to   legislate,   upon    the 
subject.      But    although   I    shrink   from,   and,   from   fear   of 
wearying  the  House,  avoid  that  topic,  I  may   be   permitted, 
I   hope — speaking,    as   I    trust    I    shall    to-night,    with   the 
utmost  impartiality,  and  not  appearing  here,  as  some  honour- 
able gentlemen  do,  as  the  advocate  either  of  the  tenant  or 
of  the   landlord   in   particular — I  hope  I  may  be  allowed  to 
congratulate  the  landlords  of  Ireland  upon  this — that  the  re- 
sult of  all  these  investigations,  of  this  protracted  discussion,  and 
of  the  scrutinising  mind  of  the  ministry  of  this  country  being 
brought  to  bear  on  this  subject,  has  been  that  it  has  greatly 
cleared   their   reputation    and    strengthened    their    position. 
They  cannot  be  accused  of  rapacity  who,  it  is  proved,  receive  a 
lower  rent  than  the  landlords  of  England ;  they  cannot  be 
accused  of  ruthlessness  when  the  solitary  instances  with  pain 
and  difficulty  brought  forward  against  them  are  instances  of  a 
very  few  men  of  crazy  imagination  and  conduct ;  and  if  we 
were  to  make  a  selection  in  England  in  the  same  spirit  we 
might,  perhaps,  find  a  few  individual  proprietors  influenced  by 
similar  feelings.      In  the   result    there    would   be    the   same 
amount  of  justice,  and  the  same  honour  to  the  discoverers  of 
the  exceptional  instances. 

I  may  be  allowed,  if,  indeed,  it  be  necessary,  to  remind 
the  House  that  this  is  no  new  question.  It  has  now  been 
in  some  degree  under  the  consideration  of  Parliament  and 
of  the  country  for  many  years.  I  do  not  mean  to  say  that 
the  period  which  has  elapsed  since  it  was  first  mooted  as 
a  Parliamentary  question  has  been  one,  considering  its  import- 
ance and  magnitude,  that  may  be  deemed  unreasonable. 
It  is  a  habit  of  this  country — a  wise  and  salutary  habit, 


IEISH  LAND  BILL,   MAECH   1870.  341 

which  guards  us  from  precipitate  legislation — that  a  question 
should  be  fairly  discussed  and  understood,  not  merely  by  cabi- 
nets and  councils,  but  by  the  nation  altogether,  before  we  give 
it  the  final  seal  of  permanent  legislation.  Sir,  we  have  had 
many  references,  in  the  course  of  the  interesting  debate  which 
the  motion  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  has  produced, 
to  important  documents,  such  as  the  Bills  brought  forward  by 
ministers  who  have  at  various  times  endeavoured  to  bring  this 
great  controversy  to  a  favourable  and  satisfactory  termination. 
But  I  am  surprised  that  during  this  protracted  debate  such 
very  slight  and  casual  reference  has  been  made  to  a  document 
which,  after  all,  is  more  important  than  any  Bill  that  has  ever 
been  proposed  by  any  minister,  and  that  is  the  Keport  of  the 
Devon  Commission.1 

From  the  moment  that  the  Keport  of  the  Devon  Com- 
mission— which  was  proposed  to  Parliament  by  one  of  the 
most  eminent  statesmen  of  this  country — was  laid  on  our 
table,  some  legislation  upon  the  relations  that  existed  between 
landlord  and  tenant  in  Ireland  seemed  to  be  inevitable.  From 
that  moment  it  became  a  public  question,  and  one  of  the 
highest  interest.  I  grant,  Sir,  that  there  were  some  persons 
who  were  then  of  opinion  that,  by  the  consequences  of  that 
dire  calamity,  perhaps  the  greatest  and  most  awful  visitation 
of  the  century,  which  occurred  in  Ireland — the  famine — that 
by  the  great  reduction  of  the  population  of  that  country,  some 
of  the  difficulties,  and  those  the  most  important,  with  reference 
to  the  condition  of  Ireland  might  have  been  removed  as  regards 
the  tenure  of  land.  But,  although  the  population  of  Ireland 
was  so  largely  reduced,  and  although  in  consequence  of  such 
reduction  the  competition  for  land  has  equally  diminished,  and 
for  a  time,  and  a  very  brief  time,  some  solution  of  the  difficulty 
was  recognised  in  those  circumstances,  still  the  famine  in 
Ireland  brought  about  another  great  event  in  the  social  condi- 
tion of  that  country 2 — namely,  the  creation  of  a  new  class  of 

1  A    Royal   Commission,   of  which  the    Earl   of    Devon  was  chairman, 
appointed  in  1843  to  inquire  into  the  law  and  practice  with  regard  to  the 
occupation  of  land  in  Ireland.     The  Report  was  presented  to  Parliament  in 
February  1845. 

2  Reference  to  Encumbered  Estates  Act,  1849. 


342  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EARL  OF  BEACOXSFIELD. 

proprietors  of  land,  which  prevented  that  alleviation  of  the 
difficulties  which  was  anticipated,  and  which  in  a  certain 
degree  ultimately  aggravated  them. 

We  must  remember  that  by  the  encouragement  of  England, 
at  the  invitation  of  its  ministers,  and  by  the  legislation  of 
Parliament,  Englishmen  and  Scotchmen  were  invited  to  invest 
their  capital  in  the  purchase  of  the  land  of  Ireland.  We  must 
also  remember  that  at  that  period  it  was  also  impressed  upon 
the  country,  in  the  spirit  in  which  the  present  Bill  has  been 
drawn  and  proposed,  that  the  relation  between  landlord  and 
tenant  ought  to  be  a  purely  commercial  relation ;  and  unless 
it  was  such  no  satisfactory  result  could  be  obtained.  The  con- 
sequence of  this  was  that  a  great  body  of  proprietors,  men  of 
capital,  sense,  and  science,  entered  into  a  bargain  at  the  invi- 
tation of  the  State,  which  they  on  their  part  have  rigidly  ful- 
filled. They  no  doubt  introduced  a  treatment  of  those  who  were 
dependent  upon  them,  as  regards  the  tenure  of  land,  very 
different  from  that  which  was  expected  by  those  who  had  so 
long  enjoyed  the  facility  and  forbearance  of  the  old  Irish  land- 
lords— that  body  of  men's  conduct  is  now  denounced,  and  their 
ruthlessness  and  rapacity  held  up  to  public  odium. 

Sir,  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for  Lis- 
keard  (Mr.  Horsman)  said  last  night  that,  from  the  moment 
the  Keport  of  the  Devon  Commission  was  issued,  this  all-im- 
portant question  was  trifled  with  by  successive  ministries  who 
have  endeavoured  to  deal  with  this  question,  who  have  given 
to  its  consideration  great  thought  and  labour,  and  who  were 
prepared  to  stand  or  fall  by  the  measures  which  they  intro- 
duced. I  must,  though  I  hope  with  good  temper,  utterly 
repudiate  the  imputation  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman. 
And  I  am  bound  to  say  from  what  I  know  of  public  life,  such 
as  I  can  observe  from  my  seat  in  this  House,  I  have  no  reason 
to  believe  that  those  who  sit  opposite  to  me,  and  who  in  the 
course  of  their  career  have  also  been  responsible  for  Bills  to 
establish  more  satisfactory  relations  between  landlords  and 
tenants  in  Ireland — I  say  I  do  not  believe  they  were  animated 
by  any  other  spirit  than  we  were.  Sir,  I  cannot  for  one  moment 
believe  that  they  trifled  with  this  question  ;  but,  on  the  other 


I 


IRISH  LAND   BILL,   MAKCH   1870.  343 

hand,  I  am  confident  that  they  gave  to  it  all  the  pains  which 
learning  and  research  could  bring  to  the  solution  of  this  diffi- 
cult question,  and  that  they  were  prepared  to  exert  the  utmost 
of  their  Parliamentary  influence  to  carry  the  result  of  their 
deliberations  into  effect. 

The  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for  Liskeard 
was  himself,  I  believe,  secretary  to  the  Lord  Lieutenant !  for  no 
brief  period.  I  never  understood  that  he  introduced  any  Bill 
with  regard  to  the  land  of  Ireland,  or,  indeed,  brought  in  any 
Bill  upon  any  subject  whatever  connected  with  Ireland  during 
his  term  of  office.  But  we  never  placed  upon  the  conduct  of 
the  right  honourable  gentleman  that  uncharitable  interpretation 
which  he  has  been  pleased  to  place  upon  the  conduct  of  those 
who  fill  both  this  and  the  opposite  benches,  who  did  attempt 
to  deal  with  this  question.  Both  sides  of  the  House  acknow- 
ledge that  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  member  for 
Liskeard  is  a  superior  person.  When  he  did  not  introduce  a 
Bill  upon  Irish  land ;  when  he  did  not  during  his  tenure  of 
office  introduce  a  Bill  upon  any  subject  whatever  in  connection 
with  that  country ;  when,  on  quitting  office,  he  informed  us,  to 
my  wonder  and  surprise,  and  especially  to  the  astonishment  of 
the  Earl  of  Mayo,  that  he  had  not  brought  forward  any  measure 
on  any  subject  whatever  because  he  found  his  office  was  a  com- 
plete sinecure,  we,  still  knowing  what  a  superior  person  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  was,  did  not  put  an  uncharitable 
interpretation  on  his  conduct,  but  said,  *  This  is  a  part  of  some 
profound  policy,  which  will  end  in  the  regeneration  of  Ireland 
and  in  the  consolidation  of  Her  Majesty's  United  Kingdom.' 

Now,  Sir,  let  me  remind  the  House  of  what  they  have  pro- 
bably forgotten — namely,  what  was  proposed  in  reference  to 
this  subject  by  the  Government  of  1852,  with  which  I  had 
the  honour  to  be  connected.  We  laid  upon  the  table  of  the 
House  four  Bills,  forming  a  complete  code  as  regards  the  land 
of  Ireland.  I  can  describe  those  four  Bills  in  a  sentence. 
They  adopted  every  recommendation  of  the  Devon  Commis- 
sion. Sir,  if  those  Bills  had  passed  we  should  not  now  have 
been  discussing  the  measure  of  the  right  honourable  gentlemen 
1  Secretary  to  the  Earl  of  Carlisle  from  1855-57. 


344  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EAEL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

opposite.  Circumstances,  however,  occurred  which  prevented 
these  Bills  from  passing.  There  was  a  change  of  Government. 
Yet,  in  the  interval  that  elapsed  between  the  end  of  1852  and 
the  year  1860,  what  occurred  with  regard  to  legislation  in 
respect  of  the  land  of  Ireland  ?  Every  provision  of  these  four 
Bills,  with  one  vital  exception,  passed  piecemeal  during  that 
interval.  The  limited  owner  was  invested  with  power  to  make 
improvements,  and  to  charge  them  upon  the  inheritance. 
That  was  a  leading  principle  in  one  of  the  four  Bills  which  I 
have  said  were  laid  upon  the  table.  Before  two  years  it  was 
passed.  The  borrowing  powers  of  the  Irish  proprietor  generally 
were  proposed  to  be  extended.  That  was  passed.  The  limited 
owner  was  permitted  to  enter  into  contracts  with  the  tenant. 
That  was  passed.  A  consolidation  and  code  of  all  the  laws  relat- 
ing to  landlord  and  tenant  in  Ireland  was  successfully  passed 
by  Sir  Joseph  Napier,  although  in  Opposition,  in  1860 ;  and 
that  code  and  consolidation  included  many  valuable  amend- 
ments of  the  law. 

The  particular  Bill  which  we  brought  forward  in  1852, 
which  would  have  regulated  the  relations  between  landlord  and 
tenant  in  Ireland,  was  referred,  after  the  fall  of  our  Govern- 
ment, to  a  Select  Committee.  The  labours  of  that  Select 
Committee  I  will  not  dwell  upon,  because  it  would  weary  the 
House,  and  time  will  not  permit.  They  experienced  various 
complications  and  many  strange  vicissitudes ;  but  this  was  the 
result — every  provision  in  the  Bill  that  we  brought  forward  to 
regulate  the  relations  of  landlord  and  tenant  in  Ireland  was 
adopted  by  that  committee  with  one  vital  exception,  and  a  Bill 
was  at  last  passed  in  1860  to  regulate  those  relations,  with  the 
omission  of  what  I  consider  to  be  a  vital  clause  in  the  Bill  of 
1852 — namely,  that  which  gave  compensation  to  the  tenant  for 
improvements,  and  retrospective  compensation.  I  might  have 
dwelt  longer  on  this  matter,  but  that  I  believe  to  be  a  fair  and 
candid  description  of  the  proposals  we  made.  And  I  say  that 
the  Government  which  made  these  proposals  ought  not  to  be 
subjected  to  the  careless  taunts  of  a  gentleman  who  has  beei 
absent  for  some  little  time  from  the  House,  and  comes  back  tc 
denounce  public  men  who  have  given  most  laborious  hours  to, 


IRISH   LAND   BILL,   MARCH    1870.  345 

and  incurred  heavy  responsibility  in  connection  with,  this  sub- 
ject, and  who  ought  not  to  be  told  that  successive  ministries 
have  trifled  with  it. 

I  was  in  favour,  in  1852,  of  giving  compensation  to  the  Irish 
tenant  for  his  improvements,  and  within  due  limits,  and  with 
necessary  conditions  of  prudence  and  discretion,  I  was  in  favour 
of  retrospective  compensation.  Sir,  I  am  still  of  that  opinion. 
I  believe  that  in  retrospective  compensation  there  should  be  a 
term  fixed — moderate  and  reasonable,  not  of  too  long  dura- 
tion— and  that  it  should  extend  to  all  objects,  without  any  ex- 
ception. But,  Sir,  I  regret  to  say,  and  I  say  it  in  passing,  for 
hitherto  I  have  not  touched  on  the  present  Bill — I  do  not 
approve  of  that  provision  which  would  assume  that  all  past 
improvements  have  been  made  by  the  tenant  instead  of  by  the 
landlord.  Indeed,  with  such  a  condition  I  could  not  entertain 
the  proposition  to  provide  for  retrospective  improvements. 
Sir,  it  appears  to  me,  though  this  is  hardly  the  moment  to 
touch  upon  the  subject,  and  therefore  I  will  advert  to  it  only 
by  a  word,  that  the  wisest  course  in  that  matter  is  to  put  the 
onus  probandi  upon  neither  party.  I  am  quite  certain  that,  as 
respects  the  landlord,  it  would  act  in  a  spirit  of  great  injustice  ; 
it  would  require  him  to  do  things  which  he  could  never  have 
anticipated  that  the  law  would  have  called  on  him  to  do ;  and 
with  one  bailiff  who  is  dead,  and  another  who  is  absent,  with- 
out register  or  record  kept  of  what  has  occurred,  to  ask 
him  now  to  accede  to  a  proposal  which  is  novel,  I  will 
not  say  irregular,  but  certainly  one  of  which  this  country 
has  little  experience  —  it  is  to  my  mind  a  most  impolitic 
act  to  bring  forward  that  proposition  with  respect  to  a  sub- 
ject upon  which  I  hope  now  there  is  generally  a  mutual  agree- 
ment. 

Now,  I  find  that  this  great  question  of  compensation  for 
improvements,  especially  retrospective  compensation  for  im- 
provements, which  was  included  in  our  land  code  of  1852,  is 
now  proposed  and  conceded  by  the  Government  in  the  Bill 
before  us.  Well,  Sir,  that  alone,  in  my  mind,  is  a  sufficient 
reason  why  I  should  assent  to  the  second  reading  of  this  Bill. 
And  here  I  would  say  one  word  before  I  proceed  further  with 


346     SPEECHES  OF  THE  KIEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

respect  to  the  position  in  which  gentlemen  on  this  side  of  the 
House  are  placed  by  assenting  to  the  second  reading.  I  under- 
stand by  assenting  to  the  second  reading  of  the  Bill  that  I 
assent  to  its  principle ;  and  I  look  upon  its  principle  to  be  an 
amendment  of  the  laws  relating  to  the  occupation  and  owner- 
ship of  land  in  Ireland. 

I  do  not  know  what  the  Judge  Advocate-General ]  means 
by  his  cheer.  I  think  he  made  a  most  indiscreet  and  incon- 
siderate observation  when  he  fixed  upon  three  provisions 2  of 
the  Bill,  respecting  which  he  must  have  anticipated  there  must 
be  great  controversy  ;  and,  representing  the  Government,  said, 
'  These  are  the  three  principles  of  the  Bill,  and  every  gentleman 
who  votes  for  the  second  reading  is  pledged  to  those  prin- 
ciples.' The  consequence  of  the  speech  of  the  Judge  Advocate 
was,  I  am  told,  that  several  much-respected  members  of  this 
House,  whose  votes  upon  this  subject  I  should  have  been  very 
glad  to  have  seen  arranged  on  the  same  side  with  mine,  quitted 
the  House.  Such  is  the  result  of  a  speech  made  by  a  man  of 
talent,  placed  for  the  first  time  in  a  position  to  which  he  is 
unaccustomed.  Now,  Sir,  I  have  explained  to  the  House,  and 
I  believe  every  gentleman  on  this  side  of  the  House  under- 
stands, the  principle  of  this  Bill.  It  is  that  we  are  prepared 
'  to  amend  the  law  relating  to  the  occupation  and  the  owner- 
ship of  land  in  Ireland ; '  and  when  we  go  into  Committee  we 
shall  consider  its  provisions. 

So  far  as  my  position  is  concerned,  I  might  stop  there. 
I  might  have  remained  silent  but  for  the  speech  of  the  learned 
Judge  Advocate :  and  the  right  honourable  gentleman  could 
not  with  reason  complain  if,  when  we  went  into  Committee,  he 
was  met  by  amendments  for  which  he  is  not  prepared.  But, 
Sir,  I  think  it  better  that  we,  not  objecting  to  the  second 
reading  of  a  Bill  of  the  vast  importance  of  the  present,  should 
indicate  the  great  points  on  which  we  think  there  is  difference 
between  us  and  the  Government,  and  thereby  indicate  the  course 
that  we  shall  take  in  the  scrutinising  labours  of  the  Com- 

1  Sir  Colman  O'Loghlen. 

-  1.  The  legalisation  of  the  Ulster  custom ;  2.  The  legalisation  of  other 
customs ;  3.  The  grant  of  a  property  in  occupancy. 


IKISH  LAXD   BILL,   MARCH    1870.  347 

inittee,  and  perhaps  induce  the  Government,  before  we  reach 
that  ceremony,  to  consider  their  position  on  those  points,  and 
meet  us  in  that  spirit  of  compromise  which  I  flatter  myself  may 
distinguish  our  general  labours  in  Committee.  Therefore  it  is 
that,  having  guarded  myself  against  the  rash  conclusions  of  the 
Judge  Advocate,  I  will  very  briefly  mention  the  points  on  which 
I  have  grave  doubts  at  present,  and  on  which,  so  far  as  I  am 
advised,  I  shall  feel  it  iny  duty,  as  others  will  feel  it  theirs,  to 
ask  the  Government  to  reconsider  their  position ;  or  if  they  will 
not  do  so,  to  appeal  to  the  wisdom  and  patriotism  of  the  Com- 
mittee in  which  we  shall  soon  find  ourselves. 

And  now,  Sir,  the  first  point  on  which  I  had  very  grave 
doubts  is  as  to  the  propriety  of  that  proposition  of  the  ministry 
which  relates  to  what  is  called  the  Ulster  custom.  It  appears  to 
me  impossible  that  the  Bill  can  pass  with  regard  to  this  part  of 
the  subject  in  the  form  in  which  it  is  framed :  but  the  objec- 
tions which  I  have  are  so  very  grave  that  they  are  objections  to 
the  principle,  and  it  is  my  duty  to  place  them  at  once  before 
the  consideration  of  the  House.  What  is  this  first  clause  of  the 
Bill,  respecting  the  legality  of  what  is  called  Ulster  tenant-right 
custom  ?  It  is  neither  more  nor  less  than  asking  Parliament 
to  legalise  the  private  arrangements  of  every  estate  in  the  north 
of  Ireland.  What  is  the  Ulster  custom  2  No  gentleman  has 
pretended  to  tell  us.  There  is  no  such  thing  as  an  Ulster 
custom.  There  are  a  variety  of  customs  as  respects  tenant- 
right  in  Ulster,  as  there  are  a  great  many  such  customs  in  the 
other  parts  of  Ireland,  but  there  is  no  gentleman  who  can  tell 
us  what  the  Ulster  custom  is ;  and  this  is  so  obvious  and 
acknowledged  that  we  have  absolutely  a  notice  on  our  paper  at 
the  present  moment  in  which  an  honourable  member  for  the 
first  time  attempts  to  make  a  definition  of  the  Ulster  custom, 
and  asks  Parliament  to  consider  it. 

Now,  Sir,  I  consider  that  the  utmost  difficulty,  not  to  say 
impossibility,  lurks  in  the  course  which  the  Government  are 
recommending  us  to  take  on  this  subject.  I  see  no  termination 
to  the  controversy,  nor  can  I  see  what  settlement  even  the 
highest  authorities  can  bring  to  bear  upon  this  subject,  because 
their  decision  upon  any  one  case  will  not  decide  another  case, 


348  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EABL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

for  the  reason  that  the  circumstances  which  will  be  brought 
before  the  authorities  will  be  ever  varying.  In  my  mind  there- 
is  a  complete  fallacy  in  the  argument  that  has  been  offered  in 
the  course  of  this  debate  by  several  gentlemen,  and  recently 
—  I  remember  it  better  because  it  is  recently — by  the  Judge 
Advocate-General,  who  says,  'Why,  all  we  ask  is  that  you 
should  do  in  Ireland  what  you  have  done  in  England :  you  have 
legalised  the  custom  of  tenant-right  in  parts  of  England,  why 
should  you  not  legalise  it  in  parts  of  Ireland  ? '  The  right 
honourable  gentleman  did  not  see  or  would  not  acknowledge 
that  there  is  a  vital  difference  between  the  two  instances. 
The  very  language  which  we  use  upon  this  subject  in  this 
country  indicates  the  difference. 

My  honourable  friend  the  member  for  Lincolnshire  (Mr. 
Chaplin)  in  his  able  speech  gave  us  a  picturesque,  an  animated, 
and  a  true  account  of  the  admirable  tenant-right  which  exists 
in  Lincolnshire.  But  what  is  it  called  there?  It  is  called 
there,  as  in  other  parts  of  England,  the  *  custom  of  the  country  :  * 
everybody  knows  it  as  a  custom,  because  it  is  ancient,  because 
it  existed  before  the  memory  of  man,  because  it  is  prescrip- 
tive, because  it  is  certain,  because  it  is  both  the  custom  of  the 
country,  and  also  the  common  law  of  England.  But  is  there 
anyone  who  can  get  up  in  his  place  in  Parliament  and  for  a 
moment  pretend  that  these  qualities  attach  to  any  private 
arrangements  that  exist  in  Ulster  ?  No  one  pretends  that  there 
is  any  custom  of  Ulster.  There  is  no  prescription,  because  it 
is  not  ancient ;  there  is  no  certainty,  because  it  varies  under 
every  rule.  Then  I  want  to  know  in  what  manner  you  will 
deal  with  this  question  of  Ulster  custom.  Besides,  even  if  it 
were  a  custom,  I  very  much  doubt  the  propriety,  as  a  general 
principle,  of  legalising  customs.  The  moment  you  legalise  a 
custom  you  fix  its  particular  character ;  but  the  value  of  a 
custom  is  its  flexibility,  and  that  it  adapts  itself  to  all  the  cir- 
cumstances of  the  moment  and  of  the  locality.  All  these 
qualities  are  lost  the  moment  you  crystallise  a  custom  into 
legislation.  Customs  may  not  be  as  wise  as  laws,  but  they  are 
always  more  popular.  They  array  upon  their  side  alike  the 
convictions  and  the  prejudices  of  men.  They  are  spontaneous. 


IEISH  LAND   BILL,   MAECH   1870.  349 

They  grow  out  of  man's  necessities  and  invention,  and  as  cir- 
cumstances change  and  alter  and  die  off,  the  custom  falls  into 
desuetude,  and  we  get  rid  of  it.  But  if  you  make  it  into  law, 
circumstances  alter,  but  the  law  remains,  and  becomes  part  of 
that  obsolete  legislation  which  haunts  our  statute-book  and 
harasses  society. 

Therefore  I  say,  as  a  general  principle,  I  am  against 
legalising  customs.  You  cannot,  if  you  are  to  legalise  custom, 
legalise  the  custom  of  Ulster,  because  it  does  not  exist.  But 
if  it  does  exist,  what  is  the  reason  that  you  should  have 
special  legislation  for  the  custom  of  Ulster?  These  agricultural 
customs  exist  in  other  parts  of  Ireland  ;  you  have  provided  for 
them  in  your  Bill.  Why  should  there  be  two  clauses — one  for 
Ulster  and  one  for  the  other  customs  ?  Protesting  against 
legalising  customs,  I  say  that,  if  the  House  in  its  wisdom 
decides  upon  that  course,  it  will  be  expedient  to  get  rid  of  this 
special  legislation  for  Ulster,  and  to  support  a  general  clause 
upon  the  whole  subject  of  legalising  the  agricultural  customs  of 
Ireland. 

I  now  proceed  to  another  part  of  the  Bill,  of  which  I 
entirely  disapprove,  and  that  is  the  compensation  that  is  to  be 
given  for  occupation.  We  have  heard  many  objections  to  the 
principle  of  the  clause.  I  may  touch  upon  them,  but  I  wish  at 
once  to  state  the  reason  why  I  particularly  object  to  that  clause. 
It  is  not  upon  the  interest  peculiarly  of  the  landlord  that  I 
found  my  objection.  My  objection  to  this  clause,  which,  at  the 
iirst  blush,  recognises  property  in  occupation,  and  which  there- 
fore I  am  not  surprised  has  alarmed  many  gentlemen,  is  that 
this  is  a  proposition  which  terminates  at  one  fell  swoop  all 
moral  relations  between  the  owner  and  the  occupier.  Although 
some  years  ago  we  used  to  hear  a  great  deal  upon  the  subject, 
I  doubt  very  much  whether  you  can  convert  the  relation 
between  landlord  and  tenant  into  a  purely  commercial  relation. 
There  is  something,  I  think,  in  the  nature  of  the  property  itself 
— something  in  the  inevitable  consequences  of  local  circum- 
stances and  local  influences,  that  would  always  prevent  such  a 
consummation  ;  and,  as  far  as  I  can  observe  or  have  learnt,  these 
circumstances  have  prevented  the  establishment  of  a  purely 


350  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF    BEACONSFIELD. 

commercial  relation  even  in  Scotand,  where  the  experiment 
would  appear  to  have  been  tried  under  the  most  favourable  cir- 
cumstances. But  of  this  I  am  sure,  that  it  is  a  relation  that 
never  could  be  established  in  the  case  of  circumstances  such  as 
mainly  exist  in  Ireland.  If  ever  there  was  a  state  of  society  in 
which  the  relations  between  landlord  and  tenant  should  be 
paternal,  it  is  in  a  country  where  you  have  farmers  of  an  acre, 
and  where  a  man  pays  you,  as  my  right  honourable  friend  (Mr. 
Gathorne  Hardy)  mentioned  last  night,  40s.  for  his  annual  rent. 

Now,  Sir,  this  clause,  in  my  opinion,  terminates  all  moral 
relations  whatever.  No  doubt  there  may  be  some  gentle- 
men— and  those  probably  who  have  least  considered  the 
subject — -who  will  be  surprised  to  hear  that  there  are  moral 
relations  existing  between  landlords  and  their  tenants  even  in 
the  extreme  south  of  Ireland.  But  among  the  most  important 
moral  relations  between  these  two  classes  is  exactitude  in 
demanding  and  paying  rent.  Sir,  moral  qualities  of  a  very  high 
order  are  developed  when  the  tenant  does  not  pay  you  rent.  For- 
bearance in  its  most  Christian  aspect  may  then  be  exhibited 
in  a  manner  that  may  claim  the  respect  and  admiration  of 
society.  There  is  no  body  of  men  who  require  forbearance  to 
be  shown  to  them  more  than  those  small  Irish  tenants.  In 
what  position  towards  them  do  you  now  place  the  Irish  land- 
lords, to  whose  sympathy  and  kindness  the  tenants  hitherto 
have  preferred  a  claim  ? 

An  industrious  man,  a  hard-working  and  good  man,  is  over- 
come, we  will  suppose,  by  some  of  those  vicissitudes  of  seasons 
which  Ireland  is  not  exempt  from,  and  he  applies — as  others 
have  applied  before,  and  not  in  vain — to  the  distinguished 
facility  and  good  nature  of  the  Irish  landlord.  But  the  landlord 
naturally  asks,  who  is  the  man  who  thus  comes  to  me  with  a 
claim  for  consideration  ?  The  relations  that  once  existed,  the 
relation  of  patron  and  client — a  relation  that,  truly  conceived 
and  generously  administered,  is  one  of  the  strongest  elements 
of  the  social  system — no  longer  subsists.  And  the  landlord 
says,  *  This  man,  who  comes  and  asks  me  to  exercise  all  the 
higher  qualities  of  human  nature — this  man,  under  the  law  as 
it  has  now  been  constituted —  is  a  man  who  is  no  longer  my 


IKISH  LAND  BILL,  MARCH   1870.  351 

tenant,  but  my  co-partner.  He  may  to-morrow,  by  the  decision 
of  some  person  that  I  have  never  heard  of,  claim  seven  years' 
rent  from  me,  to  be  increased  by  at  least  three  years'  more  rent 
if  he  leaves  me  unexhausted  improvements,  of  the  existence  of 
which  I  am  not  even  conscious.  The  value  of  my  estate  is 
only  twenty  years'  purchase;  he  has  consequently  as  much 
interest  in  the  estate  as  myself.  Why,  then,  should  I  suffer 
inconvenience  and  loss,  or  forbear  from  vindicating  my  rights  ?  ' 
I  say  that  this  appeal  of  a  tenant  under  circumstances  such  as 
I  have  described  would  be  one  of  the  very  last  which  was  calcu- 
lated to  touch  the  heart  of  a  proprietor.  But  this  is  the  position 
in  which  you  propose  to  place  landlord  and  tenant  for  the 
future,  terminating  all  those  moral  relations  which  have  pre- 
vailed, and  even  in  the  most  unhappy  times  have  been-  ex- 
tensively exercised. 

There  are  those  who  also  object  to  the  clause  because,  in 
their  mind,  it  converts  occupancy  into  property.  If  that  were 
the  case,  the  objections  to  the  clause  would  be  so  strong  that  I 
could  not  bring  myself  to  support  it.  But  I  have  placed  a 
different  construction  upon  the  clause — the  same  which  was 
expressed  with  so  much  clearness  the  other  night  by  my  right 
honourable  friend  the  member  for  the  University  of  Dublin 
(Dr.  Ball),  who  looked  upon  this  as  a  constructive  contract, 
which,  though  there  was  no  lease  between  the  landlord  and 
the  tenant,  secured  to  him  an  equity  and  the  opportunity  of 
having  complete  cultivation  of  the  land.  That  he  could  not 
have  in  a  year  or  six  months ;  and  that  may  be  a  fair  ground 
for  giving  the  person  who  loses  his  occupancy  a  liberal  com- 
pensation, though  it  appears  to  me  that,  under  these  circum- 
stances, the  compensation  suggested  by  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  would  be  excessive. 

Well,  Sir,  there  is  another  point  on  which  I  wish  to  make  a 
remark,  and  only  one.  It  is  a  subject  which  must  engage  our 
attention  by-and-by,  and  that  is  the  proposition  of  the  right 
honourable  gentleman  in  this  Bill  to  make  advances  of  public 
money  for  a  variety  of  objects.  Now,  I  am  not  prepared  to  say 
that  it  is  not  quite  justifiable  on  the  part  of  the  State  occasion- 
ally to  make  advances  for  the  benefit  of  a  class,  with  the  con- 


352  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

viction  that  in  benefiting  that  class  you  are  bringing  advantage 
to  the  body  politic  generally.  Under  such  circumstances,  how- 
ever, we  have  a  right,  I  think,  to  look  to  these  two  considerations 
— that  the  advances  should  be  made  with  good  security,  and 
that  they  should  be  made  for  a  beneficial  object.  Now,  Sir, 
I  will  not  go  into  the  variety  of  quarters  to  which,  if  this  policy 
is  admitted,  under  this  Bill,  advances  may  be  made  ;  but  with 
regard  to  the  tenant  I  must  at  once  say  that  I  greatly  object 
to  advances  to  the  tenant  in  Ireland  in  order  that  he  should 
purchase  freehold.  Our  great  object,  as  it  appears  to  me,  is  to 
make  the  Irish  tenant  more  efficient — to  make  his  tenure  more 
secure,  as  secure  as  we  can  without  trespassing  on  the  legitimate 
rights  of  property — encouraging  him  to  dedicate  and  devote  all 
his  resources  to  the  cultivation  of  the  soil.  That  is,  I  think, 
our  great  object.  If  you  induce  the  tenant  to  divert  a  portion  of 
the  capital  which  he  ought  to  dedicate  to  the  cultivation  of  the 
soil  to  the  attainment  of  another  and  quite  a  different  object, 
it  appears  to  me  no  policy  can  be  more  unwise  than  that  the 
tendency  of  which  is  to  make  at  the  same  time  of  one  man  an 
inefficient  tenant  and  a  poor  proprietor.  Now,  Sir,  I  well  know 
that  in  a  Bill  for  which  I  have  a  share  of  responsibility,  and 
the  full  responsibility  of  which  I  am  ready  to  take — the  last 
Land  Bill  produced  by  the  Earl  of  Mayo — there  was  a  provision 
to  make  advances  to  tenants  under  certain  conditions  ;  but 
what  was  the  object  of  those  conditions  ?  The  object  of  those 
advances  was  to  assist  the  tenant  in  the  better  cultivation  of  the 
soil.  These  advances  were  made  for  drainage,  for  building,  for 
fencing ;  and  by  these  advances  you  really  increase  the  capital 
devoted  to  the  cultivation  of  the  soil.  You  render  the  tenant 
more  efficient ;  you  give  him  greater  power  and  the  opportunity 
of  reaping  greater  profits.  That  is  not  the  result  of  the  propo- 
sition of  Her  Majesty's  ministers  in  this  case,  and  I  will  not 
relinquish  the  hope  that  when  that  question  is  fairly  discussed 
in  Committee,  and  when  Her  Majesty's  Government  have  given 
to  it  further  consideration,  and  become  better  acquainted  with 
the  feeling  of  the  House,  they  may  be  induced  to  withdraw  that 
part  of  the  measure. 

This,  Sir,  brings  me  to  a  point  which  has  been  noticed  in 


IRISH  LAND   BILL,   MARCH   1870.  353 

this  debate,  which  is  a  very  important  one,  but  which  does  not 
appear  to  me  yet  to  have  received  all  the  attention  it  .deserves 
— and  that  is  the  purchase  under  the  Landed  and  Encumbered 
Estates  Acts.  The  defence  by  the  Secretary  l  to  the  Lord  Lieu- 
tenant the  other  night  of  the  course  recommended  by  the 
minister  on  that  head  was  to  me  eminently  unsatisfactory.  It 
depended  entirely  on  the  quotation  of  what  Judge  Longfield 
wrote  in  a  tract  I  believe  recently  published.  Sir,  I  have  great 
respect  for  the  authority  of  Judge  Longfield ;  but  it  did  not 
appear  to  me,  as  I  listened  to  the  quotation,  that  it  applied  to 
the  particular  instance  before  our  consideration  at  present,  and 
I  have  since  learnt,  referring  to  the  volume,  that  that  is  the 
case.  There  is  no  doubt  that  the  purchasers  under  the  Landed 
and  Encumbered  Estates  Acts  are  not  in  any  way  debarred  from 
the  future  taxation  of  the  country,  or  the  calls  upon  them  which 
may  be  demanded  by  the  necessities  of  the  State  and  the 
nation  at  a  period  subsequent  to  those  purchases.  There  is  no 
doubt  of  that.  No  one  would  for  a  moment  contend  that 
because  they  purchased  their  estates  in  those  courts  and  had  a 
Parliamentary  title,  they  were  to  be  exempt  from  any  demands 
which  the  wisdom  of  Parliament  might  call  on  them,  in  common 
with  other  property  of  the  country,  to  meet.  But  that  gives 
only  an  entirely  incorrect  view  of  the  question  before  us.  I  do 
not  know  whether  gentlemen  on  either  side  have  seen  a  con- 
veyance under  the  Landed  and  Encumbered  Estates  Acts  in 
Ireland.  If  they  have  not,  it  is  a  piece  of  information  they  can 
easily  obtain  in  the  interval  of  this  time  and  the  Committee, 
and  they  will  find  it  extremely  instructive. 

Now,  allow  me  briefly  to  describe  what  a  conveyance  is  under 
•the  Landed  Estates  Act.  It  is  the  shortest  conveyance  in  the 
world ;  it  is  a  Parliamentary  title,  and  is  given  in  a  few  lines. 
But  it  contains  a  guarantee  :  and  what  is  that  guarantee  ?  That 
guarantee  is  a  guarantee  from  the  State  against  any  other  than 
the  claims  which  are  contained  in  a  schedule  engrossed  and 
printed  on  the  very  deed  of  conveyance.  Now,  what  are  those 
claims  in  this  schedule  ?  Listen :  these  claims  are  the  claims 
of  the  tenants  on  the  estate.  Every  tenant  is  called  upon  to 
1  Mr.  Chichester  Fortescue,  afterwards  Lord  Carlingford. 

VOL.   II.  A  A 


354  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

make  his  claim  and  send  it  in  to  the  court  signed  with  his  name, 
before  the  conveyance  is  executed,  and  from  these  claims  that 
schedule  is  drawn  up.  The  purchaser  receives  a  guarantee  of 
his  property  free  from  all  claims,  except  the  scheduled  list  of  the 
claims  of  the  tenants,  drawn  up  by  themselves,  which  is  on  the 
very  side  of  the  conveyance.  And  how  is  it  possible  to  contend 
that  under  such  a  guarantee  you  now  can  call  upon  the  purchasers 
to  satisfy  claims  of  these  very  tenants  which,  according  to  your 
projected  Bill,  existed  at  the  time  of  the  purchase  and  even 
previous  to  the  purchase  ? 

It  may  be  most  wise  and  expedient,  if  you  do  legislate  in 
this  manner,  and  that  tenants  under  these  purchases  should 
enjoy  the  same  privileges  as  other  tenants.  That  is  a  point 
I  will  not  now  argue ;  but  it  is  quite  clear  that  under  those 
circumstances  the  new  proprietor  must  be  entitled  to  com- 
pensation, and  you  cannot  move  in  this  business  without 
compensation.  This  is  a  matter  which  must  be  decided  by 
lawyers,  and  I  do  not  pretend  to  give  an  opinion  on  such  a  sub- 
ject which  shall  be  definite ;  but  what  I  want  to  do  is  to  put 
before  the  House  the  real  state  of  the  case,  in  order  that  you 
may  understand  that  if  there  be  a  guarantee  of  this  kind,  the 
guarantee  must  be  fulfilled.  And  no  quotation  from  a  treatise 
by  a  judge,  writing  on  totally  different  questions,  which  may 
very  easily  be  brought  forward  in  debate,  can  settle  a  question 
of  this  grave  and  precise  character.  Much  depends  in  this 
matter  on  the  tribunal  which  will  carry  this  Bill,  if  it  become 
laAv,  into  effect. 

The  Secretary  of  the  Lord  Lieutenant  the  other  night 
boasted  of  the  simplicity  of  this  measure.  He  said  that  fo: 
simplicity  there  had  never  been  a  Land  Bill  equal  to  it  before, 
and  of  its  simplicity  he  appeared  perfectly  proud.  Now,  with- 
out giving  any  final  or  general  opinion  as  to  the  merits  of  the 
measure,  this  much  I  will  venture  to  say,  that  a  more  com- 
plicated, a  more  clumsy,  or  a  more  heterogeneous  measure  was 
never  yet  brought  before  the  consideration  of  Parliament. 
What  moved  the  right  honourable  gentleman  to  get  us  into  all 
the  intricacies  in  reference  to  Ulster  ? 

What's  Hecuba  to  him,  or  he  to  Hecuba  ? 


! 


IRISH   LAND   BILL,  MAKCH   1870.  355 

Why  should  he  have  made  arrangements  with  regard  to  the  three 
other  provinces,  and  brought  them  in  collision  with  this  more 
favoured  province  ?  We  have  had  to-night  a  detailed  account  from 
the  honourable  member  for  Galway  (Mr.  W.  H.  Gregory)  of  the 
principles  on  which  a  Bill  upon  this  subject  should  be  founded  : 
and  I  am  going  to  give,  my  model  of  a  Bill,  and  its  recom- 
mendation shall  be  simplicity  and  brevity.  I  mention  this  in 
a  whisper  across  the  table,  in  the  hope  that  the  right  honourable 
gentleman  opposite  may  consider  the  proposal,  and  leave  all  the 
customs  of  Ireland  alone.  They  are  very  effective  at  the  pre- 
sent moment.  If  you  legalise  the  custom,  the  chance  is  that 
you  diminish  the  moral  incidents  of  the  arrangement  without 
practically  increasing  the  legal  power.  It  is  better  to  leave 
those  incidents  to  work  their  way,  as  they  have  hitherto  done, 
with  very  general  satisfaction. 

But  if  a  man  without  a  lease,  and  who  had  paid  his  rent, 
is  evicted,  why,  let  his  case  go  before  the  tribunal  you  shall 
appoint :  let  the  judge  investigate  all  the  elements  of  the 
equity  of  the  case :  and  let  him  come  to  a  decision  which 
on  one  side  shall  guard  the  tenant  from  coercion,  and  on  the 
other  preserve  the  landlord  from  fraud.  Why  cannot  you 
do  this  ?  You  are  going  to  create  a  tribunal.  Then  create 
at  once  an  efficient  tribunal,  and  delegate  to  it  the  authority  I 
have  mentioned.  It  would  not  be  so  great  a  violation  of  the 
principle  of  property  as  these  complicated  provisions  before  us. 
Then  you  would  have  a  simple  piece  of  legislation,  and  one 
which,  I  believe,  with  a  few  provisoes  and  additions,  would 
satisfy  the  necessities  of  this  difficult  question. 

What,  however,  should  the  tribunal  be  ?      I  must  say  I 

«/ 

have  great  doubts  as  to  the  manner  in  which  the  tribunal 
proposed  by  the  Bill  is  intended  to  be  formed.  I  will  not  now 
go  into  the  question  of  the  courts  of  arbitration,  though  I 
gathered  from  the  mode  in  which  the  right  honourable  gentle- 
man the  Prime  Minister  spoke  of  them,  that  he  has  great 
confidence  in  those  courts.  I  know  it  is  a  method  which  re- 
commends itself  to  his  generous  and  susceptible  nature ;  but 
acting  upon  my  own  feelings,  I  should  not  like  to  go  to 
those  courts.  Though  the  conception  recommends  itself  by  the 

A  A  2 


356  SPEECHES  OF  THE  EAEL  OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

amenity  of  the  design,  I  cannot  believe  that  practically,  in  the 
present  state  of  Ireland,  they  will  be  found  to  work  with  very 
great  felicity.  But  if  you  do  not  succeed  in  your  arbitration, 
you  then  go  to  another  person,  and  that  other  person,  in  mas- 
querade and  graceful  dress,  is  our  old  friend  the  assistant 
barrister.  I  have  heard  of  him  for  many  years,  and  in  my  time 
he  has  done  a  great  deal  of  service.  Well,  the  assistant  barris- 
ter is  a  resident  or  a  non-resident.  (A'cry  of  '  Non-resident!') 
I  am  told  that  in  consequence  of  the  state  of  Irish  society  he 
is  always  careful  to  be  non-resident.  The  non-resident  assistant 
barrister,  educated  in  the  four  courts,  acute  and  intelligent,  is 
sent  for  to  decide  these  questions  between  landlord  and  tenant, 
and,  probably  not  being  able  to  distinguish  at  first  glance 
between  a  grass  field  and  a  field  of  young  oats,  is  required  to 
decide  on  all  the  conditions  and  circumstances  of  rural  life,  to 
enter  into  protracted  accounts,  and  come  to  a  determination  on 
a  matter  in  which  considerations  even  of  '  moral  conduct '  may 
largely  enter. 

Well,  Sir,  I  cannot  think  myself  that  the  assistant  bar- 
rister, with  that  ignorance  of  country  life  which  is  an  unfor- 
tunate incident  of  his  position,  is  a  person  qualified  to 
perform  those  first  duties ;  but  if  he  perform  those  first  duties 
in  a  manner  unsatisfactory  to  either  party,  that  party  will  have 
the  power  of  appeal,  and  on  appeal,  the  matter  will  be  brought 
before  the  Judges  of  Assize.  Well,  Sir,  that  sounds  very  grand 
and  very  satisfactory.  There  are  few  gentlemen  on  this  side  or 
that  side  who  do  not  know  something  of  assizes  and  the  Judges 
of  Assize.  The  judges  are  men  whose  every  hour  and  half  hour 
is  mapped  out  before  they  embark  on  their  great  enterprise. 
The  Judges  of  Assize  are  on  Monday  in  this  town,  on  Wednes- 
day in  another  town,  and  on  Friday  in  a  third.  They  are 
followed  by  an  excited  and  ambitious  Bar,  with  their  carriages 
in  the  railways  full  of  briefs — full  of  the  great  trials  which  are 
coming  on,  causes  which  have  engrossed  and  excited  an  anxious 
society  for  months,  and  from  which  they  are  to  gain  immortal 
honours — to  be  returned  for  boroughs,  to  be  made  Solicitor- 
Grenerals,  and  to  rise  to  the  highest  positions  on  the  Bench. 
Well,  when  the  judges  come  to  the  first  town  where  those  great 


IRISH   LAND  BILL,   MAECH   1870.  357 

exploits  are  to  be  fulfilled,  and  those  great  feats  accomplished, 
where  multitudes  are  waiting  to  receive  them,  and  where  the 
galleries  are  full  of  ladies — particularly  if  the  cases  are  of  a  deli- 
cate character — all  this  great  business  is  to  be  arrested  because 
the  first  cases  to  be  brought  before  the  Judges  of  Assize  are  appeals 
from  the  assistant  barristers  on  the  relations  between  landlord 
and  tenant  in  Ireland. 

Why,  Sir,  we  know  very  well  what  will  happen.  Those 
appeals  will  demand  from  the  Judges  of  Assize  the  concentra- 
tion of  their  whole  intellect.  They  will  have  to  investigate 
the  circumstances  of  a  mode  of  life  with  which  they  are  little 
acquainted,  and  which  their  acuteness  alone  will  enable  them 
to  detach  from  the  entanglements  of  the  local  lawyers.  They 
will  have  to  go  into  accounts,  and  they  will  have,  in  the 
language  of  this  Bill,  to  do  that  which  Judges  of  Assize  will  do 
with  great  care  and  the  most  solemn  sense  of  responsibility — .to 
enter  on  the  '  moral  conduct '  of  the  parties,  and  see  how  far 
that '  moral  conduct '  affects  the  contract  between  landlord  and 
tenant.  And  what  will  happen  ?  Either  their  own  time  will 
be  taken  up  with  this  duty — or  what  is  more  likely,  the  duties 
will  be  performed  in  a  most  unsatisfactory  and  perfunctory 
manner.  You  know  something  of  this  now  in  Ireland.  You 
have  an  appeal  from  the  Civil  Bill  Court  to  two  Judges  of 
Assize ;  and  is  that  which  takes  place  when  those  appeals  are 
made,  a  satisfactory  mode  of  administering  British  justice  ?  No. 
Matters  are  hurried  over,  and  questions  are  decided  in  a  manner 
that  gives  little  satisfaction :  and  every  person  present,  except 
the  suffering  plaintiff  or  defendant,  is  delighted,  because  they 
are  dying  to  hear  the  blazing  eloquence  of  the  great  counsel 
who  are  ready  to  open  causes  with  which  these  questions  from 
the  Civil  Bill  Court  interfere. 

Therefore  I  think,  whether  I  look  to  your  primary  court 
or  your  court  of  appeal,  the  prospect  is  unsatisfactory.  I  know 
it  will  be  said  that  nothing  can  be  more  unwise  than  to 
establish  a  new  court  for  the  trial  of  those  cases ;  it  will  be 
said  that  it  is  the  inveterate  habit  of  a  new  court  to  make  busi- 
ness. I  agree  that  it  is  so.  If  you  create  a  new  court,  in 
order  to  justify  its  existence  and,  perhaps,  to  increase  the 


358  SPEECHES   OF   THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

salaries  of  its  officers,  it  will  do  its  duty  with  such  fatal 
enthusiasm  that  there  will  be  no  end  to  litigation.  I  do  not 
propose  a  new  court. ,  I  ask  the  right  honourable  gentleman  to 
leave  out  the  first  two  clauses,  to  allow  customs  to  work  their 
beneficial  and  more  convenient  way  as  they  do  at  present,  and 
to  permit  the  tribunal  to  decide  on  the  equity  of  the  case  before 
it  in  the  manner  I  have  described.  I  believe  that  judges  whom 
you  may  send  down,  as  we  do  in  this  country,  under  the  last 
Election  Act  would  perform  those  duties  satisfactorily.  No  man 
rates  more  highly  than  I  do  the  learning,  the  eloquence,  and 
the  character  of  the  judges  at  present  on  the  Irish  Bench  ;  but 
I  believe  their  learning  could  be  more  devoted  to  the  public 
service ;  and  I  wish  their  eloquence  and  their  high  character 
could  exercise  a  greater  influence  on  public  affairs.  In  fact,  I 
must  express  my  honest  opinion  that  the  judges  in  Ireland, 
with  all  their  learning,  eloquence,  and  high  character,  are  not 
sufficiently  employed  for  the  benefit  of  the  State  and  their  own 
happiness.  They  might  give  to  those  questions  all  the  learning 
and  solemn  authority  which  they  require ;  and  I  think  in  that 
way  you  have  a  tribunal  which  would  obtain  the  confidence  of 
the  country. 

There  is  one  point  more  on  which  I  wish  to  say  something. 
I  believe  it  is  a  most  difficult  one  ;  but  I  cannot  help  thinking 
that  the  more  it  is  discussed  and  considered,  the  more  public 
opinion  and  the  opinion  of  this  House  will  lean  towards  that  result 
at  which  I  confess  I  myself  have  arrived — namely,  that  it  will  be 
most  unwise  on  the  part  of  Parliament  to  interfere,  as  this  Bill 
proposes  to  do,  with  the  freedom  of  contract  in  Ireland.  Sir, 
we  have  always  regarded  freedom  of  contract  as  being  one  of 
the  greatest  securities  for  the  progress  of  civilisation.  Just  the 
same  as  we  should  say  that  the  suspension  of  the  Habeas 
Corpus  Act  may  be  necessary  sometimes  for  public  safety,  so 
we  may  say  that  when  a  country  suspends  its  freedom  of  con- 
tract, the  State  must  be  in  a  most  dangerous  or  diseased  con- 
dition. I  cannot  bring  myself  to  believe  that  the  condition  of 
Ireland  is  such  as  to  justify  us  in  adopting  what  appears  a  per- 
manent departure  from  one  of  the  cardinal  principles  of  a  free 
and  progressive  State.  I  think  we  ought  to  hesitate  before  we 


IEISH  LAND   BILL,   MAKCH   1870.  359 

adopt  such  a  course.  I  feel  the  difficulties  which  the  Govern- 
ment has  to  encounter  in  dealing  with  this  question.  I  am 
perfectly  ready  to  consider  it  in  any  way  in  which  we  can  pos- 
sibly advance  their  general  policy,  without  compromising  what 
I  must  look  upon  as  a  sacred  principle.  I  think  the  House 
ought  to  discard  all  pedantic  scruples  and  all  party  feeling  in 
dealing  with  existing  circumstances ;  and  I  think  we  should  be 
prepared,  as  far  as  existing  circumstances  are  concerned,  to 
support  the  general  policy  of  the  Government,  and  not  to  hesi- 
tate, even  when  we  believe  that  it  touches  upon  and  injures 
general  principles  which  we  may  consider  of  vital  importance 
in  the  government  of  the  country. 

But  although  the  exigencies  of  the  State  situation  may 
demand  and  authorise  such  a  course,  that  is  perfectly  different 
from  our  going  out  of  our  way  permanently  and  completely, 
and  announcing  that  Ireland  is  in  such  a  condition  that  we 
cannot  allow  the  two  most  considerable  classes  in  the  country 
— for  the  landlords  and  the  tenants  are,  after  all,  the  two 
most  considerable  classes  in  the  country — to  enjoy  the  first 
and  most  beneficial  privileges  of  civilised  life.  Sir,  I  know 
very  well  with  regard  to  this  most  important  subject,  that  the 
right  honourable  gentleman  may  remind  us  of  the  present 
peculiar  condition  of  Ireland.  I,  for  one,  am  not  insensible  to 
the  very  great  inconvenience,  the  more  than  inconvenience — 
the  great  injury  to  the  House  of  Commons  and  to  the  State — of 
having  to  discuss  this  Bill  and  to  decide  upon  this  question 
in  the  present  state  of  that  country.  I  wish  very  much  that 
the  condition  of  Ireland  now  was  what  it  was  when  we  brought 
in  our  Bill  on  the  subject  of  the  tenure  of  land  in  1852.  I 
do  not  blind  myself  to  the  condition  of  that  country  now  to 
the  effect  that  that  condition  may  have  upon  the  Legislature ; 
and  it  is  against  that  effect  that  I  should  wish  particularly  to 
guard  the  House.  I  have  not  myself  pressed  Her  Majesty's 
ministers  upon  that  subject,  although  it  is  one  that  en- 
grosses, and  naturally  engrosses,  the  public  mind  of,  England. 
But,  whatever  I  may  feel  upon  that  point,  I  cannot  doubt 
that  there  is  one  person  in  the  country  who  feels  it  more 
keenly  still,  and  that  is  the  right  honourable  gentleman  upon 


360  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

whom  rests  the  responsibility  for  the  general  condition  of  the- 
country. 

I  do  not  share  the  belief  which  some  of  my  honourable  friends 
appear  to  entertain,  that  Her  Majesty's  ministers  could  be  insen- 
sible to  the  duties  which  the  immense  difficulties  of  the  country 
now  present.  I  could  not  allow  the  memory  of  old  struggles 
connected  with  Ireland  to  induce  me  for  a  moment  to  press  Her 
Majesty's  Government  to  arrive  at  any  precipitate  conclusion 
upon  a  subject  which  demands  the  gravest — I  may  say  the 
most  agonising — consideration  that  a  statesman  could  give  to  a 
public  question ;  because  to  interfere  in  such  a  condition  of 
affairs,  and  to  interfere  efficiently,  is  what  any  public  man  who 
deserves  the  confidence  of  his  sovereign  and  of  his  country 
would  shrink  from  with  a  natural  feeling  of  distress  and  terror. 

But,  Sir,  we  cannot  avoid,  now  that  this  question  is  before 
us,  touching  upon  these  subjects,  although  I  trust  that  I  shall 
always  speak  of  them  with  temperateness  and  moderation.  It 
is  not  the  language  of  persons  on  either  side  of  this  House  that 
upon  these  matters  now  arouses  and  alarms  the  nation.  It 
cannot  be  said,  if  a  statement  is  made  as  to  the  condition  of 
Ireland,  that  it  is  a  prejudiced  or  a  hot-headed  partisan,  who 
has  made  some  unauthorised  statement  susceptible  of  easy 
explanation  by  a  minister.  Sir,  we  have  had  before  us  recently, 
within  only  a  few  days,  the  gravest  document  l  almost  that  any 
country  ever  produced,  containing  descriptions  of  Ireland  by 
men  qualified  by  their  high  station,  by  their  perfect  freedom 
from  all  party  passion,  by  the  eminence  of  their  august  position, 
and  by  the  consciousness  of  their  solemn  duty,  to  influence  the 
opinion  of  the  nation  and  of  Parliament.  Those  charges  have 
been  noticed  in  this  House,  but  the  attention  of  this  House  has 
only  been  incidentally  called  to  them,  and  I  must  say  that  I 
regretted  that  the  right  honourable  gentleman  the  other  night, 
when  the  charges  of  the  Chief  Justices  of  Ireland  were  alluded 
to,  should  have  thought  it  consistent  with  his  duty,  with  the 
stern  reality  of  facts,  to  carp  at  expressions  and  to  extract  some 
petty  sentences,  with  the  object,  if  he  had  an  object,  of  convey- 

1  The  charge  of  the  Lord  Chief  Justice  of  Ireland  at  Longford,  and  of  the 
Chief  Justice  of  the  Common  Pleas  at  Meath. 


IRISH  LAND   BILL,   MARCH   1870.  361 

ing  to  the  House  and  to  the  country,  that  the  country  and  the 
House  had  taken  an  exaggerated  view  of  the  state  of  Ireland. 

I  confess  that  when  these  two  charges  of  the  Lords  Chief 
Justices  of  Ireland  first  appeared  and  were  brought  incidentally 
before  our  consideration,  I  was  touched  by  a  very  different 
feeling,  and  influenced  by  a  very  different  emotion  from  that 
which  seemed  to  animate  the  right  honourable  gentleman. 
Who  were  these  men  who  delivered  these  charges  ?  I  sat  with 
them  in  this  House  for  many  years.  They  had  no  resemblance 
to  each  other,  except  in  their  talents  and  their  learning,  in 
their  high  character  and  in  their  candour.  One  was  a  Tory  of 
Tories,  and  the  other  was  a  man  of  extreme  opinions,  belonging 
to  a  party  professing  the  same.  One  was — it  is  painful  to 
allude  to  such  a  difference,  but  when  you  treat  of  Ireland  and 
Irish  political  matters  you  must  do  so — one  was  a  Protestant, 
and  the  other  was  of  the  Roman  faith.  And  these  two  men, 
rivals  in  politics,  connected  with  different  parties  in  the  State, 
professing  different  religions,  resembling  each  other,  if  I  may 
presume  to  say  so,  only  in  that  which  was  excellent  and  admir- 
able, called  upon  to  fulfil  the  most  solemn  duty  of  their  offices, 
and  to  represent  the  condition  of  their  country  to  their  nation 
and  their  Sovereign,  though  viewing  that  country  in  different 
districts,  adopted  the  same  views  and  language,  and  conveyed 
the  same  result  to  an  alarmed,  and  I  might  say  an  appalled 
community. 

Sir,  I  know  well  that  the  condition  of  Ireland  may  act  upon 
the  decision  of  this  House  in  the  conduct  of  this  Bill.  I,  who 
am  offering  to  this  Bill  no  factious  opposition,  who  have  given 
to  it,  as  I  promised,  a  candid  consideration,  and  who,  I  trust, 
with  the  modifications  which  argument  and  reason  may  bring 
about,  will  yet  be  able  to  give  it  a  cordial  support,  am  most 
anxious  that  honourable  gentlemen,  on  whatever  side  they  sit, 
shall  not  decide  upon  the  fate  of  Ireland  in  these  most  interest- 
ing and  important  relations  of  its  most  important  classes  in  a 
spirit  of  panic.  Do  not  let  us  vote  upon  this  subject  as  if  we 
had  received  threatening  letters — as  if  we  expected  to  meet 
Eory  of  the  Hills  when  we  go  into  the  lobby.  No,  let  us  decide 
upon  all  those  great  subjects  which  will  be  brought  under  our 


362  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EAKL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

consideration  in  Committee,  as  becomes  members  of  the  House 
of  Commons,  for,  depend  upon  it,  if  we  are  induced  in  a  hurry 
and  with  precipitation  to  agree  to  such  monstrous  enactments 
as  that  the  Irish  people  should  not  have  the  power,  for  instance, 
of  entering  into  contracts  with  each  other,  the  time  will  come 
— a  more  tranquil  and  a  more  genial  hour  as  regards  Ireland 
than  the  present — when  the  reproach  we  shall  receive  upon  the 
subject  will  be  made  from  Ireland  itself,  and  they  will  say  of 
the  English  people,  they  treated  us  in  our  hour  of  difficulty 
as  those  who  neither  comprehended  justice  nor  deserved 
freedom. 


363 


WESTMEATH  COMMITTEE,  Feb.  27,  1871. 

[It  was  perhaps  not  to  be  expected  that  the  measures  of  1869 
and  1870  should  operate  all  at  once.  Still  less,  however,  was  it  to 
be  expected  that  the  necessity  for  coercive  legislation  arising  im- 
mediately afterwards  should  not  eagerly  be  turned  to  good  account 
by  a  Parliamentary  Opposition.  Accordingly,  when  the  Marquis  of 
Hartington  l  early  in  the  session  of  1871  moved  '  That  a  Select  Com- 
mittee be  appointed  to  inquire  into  the  state  of  Westmeath  and  certain 
parts  adjoining,  of  Meath  and  King's  County,  the  nature,  extent,  and 
effect  of  a  certain  unlawful  combination  and  confederacy  existing 
therein,  and  the  best  means  of  suppressing  the  same,'  it  was  very 
natural  that  Mr.  Disraeli  should  comment  on  the  proposal  as  he  does. 
It  is  needless  to  say  with  what  delight  this  speech  was  listened  to  by 
his  own  side  of  the  House ;  it  being  generally  remarked  that  he  was 
regaining  his  old  brilliancy,  which,  until  he  spoke  on  the  24th  on  the 
Black  Sea  Conference,  was  thought  to  be  under  an  eclipse.] 

THE  noble  lord  commenced  his  observations  by  confessing 
the  sentiment  of  dismay  with  which  he  rose  to  make  the 
proposition  with  which  he  has  terminated  his  speech,  and  I 
quite  sympathised  with  the  noble  lord.  I  thought  it  was  a 
sentiment  most  natural,  and  it  did  him  great  honour,  in  my 
opinion,  to  be  under  its  influence  at  that  moment.  Consider- 
ing how  the  House  of  Commons  has  passed  the  last  two  years, 
the  sacrifices  which  have  been  proposed  and  which  have  been 
submitted  to,  the  unceasing  vigilance,  the  teeming  device,  the 
constant  energy,  the  great  exertions  that  never  have  been 
wanting ;  remembering  how  legislation  has  been  carried  on,  to 
the  exclusion  of  all  subjects  of  imperial  interest  but  those 
which  related  to  Ireland ;  how  England  has  submitted  to  the 
postponement  of  measures  of  great  importance,  and  Scotland 
has  given  up  that  darling  scheme  of  national  education  which 
1  Became  Secretary  for  Ireland  in  Dec.  1870. 


364  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

we  have  found  so  interesting  and  entertaining  this  evening ; 
and  viewing  what  apparently  is  the  result  of  two  years  of  con- 
stant legislation  by  a  Government  elected  for  the  purpose  of 
introducing  an  entirely  new  system  in  the  administration  of 
Ireland,  and  which  cannot  for  a  moment  pretend  that  it  has 
not  been  supported  generously  by  the  House  in  any  of  the 
measures  which  it  deemed  necessary  to  consummate  this  great 
end,  I  can  quite  understand,  or,  at  least,  I  could  quite  under- 
stand until  the  closing  observations  of  the  noble  lord,  that  he 
rose  under  a  feeling  of  some  dismay. 

But,  according  to  the  noble  lord,  in  his  concluding  sentence, 
there  is  no  reason  whatever  why  he  should  be  dismayed ;  the 
state  of  Ireland  at  present,  in  the  instance  of  this  disturbed 
county  and  the  adjoining  districts,  is  exactly  that  which  we 
ought  to  have  expected.  He  tells  us  that  religious  equality, 
that  agricultural  equity — great  ends  which  have  been  attained 
under  his  administration — were  never  for  a  moment  to  be 
counted  on  as  a  means  by  which  a  state  of  society  such  as  he 
now  introduces  to  our  notice  could  be  ameliorated.  If  that  be 
the  case,  why  should  the  noble  lord  be  dismayed  ?  The  noble 
lord  should  pluck  up  his  courage.  If  he  is  to  succeed  in  the 
singular  proposition  he  has  made  to-night,  he  should  have  come 
forward,  not  as  a  daunted,  but  rather  as  a  triumphant  minister. 
He  should  have  said, '  It  is  true  that  murder  is  perpetrated  with 
impunity ;  it  is  true  that  life  is  not  secure,  and  that  property 
has  no  enjoyment  and  scarcely  any  use ;  but  this  is  nothing 
when  in  the  enjoyment  of  abstract  political  justice — and  by  the 
labours  of  two  years  we  have  achieved  that  for  Ireland.  Mas- 
sacres, incendiarism,  and  assassinations  are  things  scarcely  to 
be  noticed  by  a  minister,  and  are  rather  to  be  referred  to  the 
inquiry  of  a  committee.' 

Now,  after  the  somewhat  perplexing  address  of  the  Chief 
Secretary  of  the  Lord  Lieutenant,  let  me  recall  the  attention 
of  the  House  to  the  position  in  which  honourable  members 
find  themselves  to-night,  after  the  notice  which  was  given 
forty-eight  hours  ago.  Suddenly  the  Secretary  of  the  Lord 
Lieutenant  comes  down  and  announces  the  appointment  of  a 
secret  committee  to  consider  the  state  of  a  portion  of  Ireland,, 


WESTMEATH   COMMITTEE,   FEBRUARY   1871.  365 

•and  not  only  to  consider  its  state  of  combination  and  con- 
federacy against  the  law,  but  also  to  devise  means  for  suppress- 
ing the  same.  That  was  the  way  in  which  the  question  was 
put  before  us.  Now,  however,  we  are  told  it  is  not  to  be  a 
secret  committee  ;  but  have  the  Government  well  considered 
the  effect  of  making  such  an  announcement  to  the  world,  and 
expressing  an  opinion  that  it  was  necessary  to  have  a  secret 
committee  to  consider  the  condition  of  a  portion  of  Ireland  ? 
Why,  the  telegraphic  cable  must  have  flashed  the  announce- 
ment to  America  forty-eight  hours  ago,  and  what  do  you  think 
must  have  been  the  effect  of  it  on  those  treasonable  confedera- 
cies which  are  always  in  action — and  are  at  this  moment  in 
-action,  as  we  know — against  the  authority  of  England  ?  What 
must  have  been  the  effect  of  such  an  announcement  ?  It 
must  have  produced  a  conviction  in  their  minds  that  the 
Government  found  the  whole  state  of  society  in  Ireland  under- 
mined, and  that  the  authority  of  the  Queen  was  in  imminent 
danger.  To  announce  forty-eight  hours  after  this  that  it  is  not 
the  intention  of  the  Government  to  propose  a  secret  com- 
mittee, indicates  a  tone  of  levity  in  dealing  with  a  great  ques- 
tion which  ought  not  to  pass  unnoticed. 

Surely  a  minister  who  proposes  a  secret  committee  on  the 
condition  of  Ireland,  by  that  proposition  alone  incurs  the 
gravest  responsibility.  Now,  to-night  we  find  it  is  not  to  be  a 
secret  committee,  and  then,  to  our  great  surprise,  we  find  that 
it  is  also  a  committee  which  is  not  to  devise  means  for  remedy- 
ing the  evils  complained  of.  Then  what  is  the  committee  to 
do?  Observe  the  description  of  this  district  of  Ireland,  where 
there  are  not  only  these  evils,  but  these  spreading  evils — observe 
the  description  of  it  given  by  the  Minister.  It  is  brief  and 
terse  in  the  extreme.  He  tells  us  it  is  intolerable.  He  tells 
us  the  state  of  Ireland  is  intolerable  (No,  no !) — that  the  state 
of  a  great  portion  of  Ireland  is  intolerable,  and  therefore  will 
want  inquiry  (No,  no !).  Well,  that  the  state  of  a  county  in 
Ireland  is  intolerable.  Is  it  reduced  to  that  ?  Is  a  county  in 
a  state  so  intolerable  that  you  must  come  to  a  senate  to  ask 
for  a  committee  to  inquire  into  it  ?  Can  you  not  get  out  of 
the  difficulty  without  coming  to  the  House  of  Commons,  and 


366  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

asking  it  to  appoint  a  secret  committee  to  devise  means  to 
govern  a  county  ? 

Well,  Sir,  secrecy  is  given  up  and  devising  means  is  given 
up ;  so  the  question  is,  *  What  is  this  committee  to  do  ? '  Every 
impartial  member  on  either  side  of  the  House  must  have  felt 
the  difficulty,  and  asked  himself  that  question.  Why,  the 
Secretary  of  the  Lord  Lieutenant  gave  us  ample  explanations  as 
to  the  various  means  by  which  he  might  have  gained  complete 
information  on  all  points  which  the  Government  required  to 
guide  them  in  order  to  meet  the  evils  of  this  district ;  and, 
indeed,  under  the  very  Act  which  we  passed  last  year,  they 
have  powers — extraordinary  powers ;  so  that,  for  instance,  if 
there  is  a  felony  committed  in  a  district,  they  can  summon 
witnesses  before  them  and  examine  them,  even  although  such 
witnesses  may  not  be  connected  with  the  felony.  Why,  what 
power  has  a  committee  of  the  House  of  Commons  compared 
with  this  power  ?  I  would  impress  on  the  House  the  inexpedi- 
ency of  assenting  to  a  committee  which  is  to  relieve  the  Gov- 
ernment from  their  responsibility  as  an  executive. 

But  the  noble  lord,  who  says  he  will  never  appear  in  the 
sheet  of  a  penitent  and  holding  the  taper  of  remorse,  told  us 
to-night  that,  whatever  the  original  intentions  of  the  Govern- 
ment were,  it  is  not  their  intention  now  to  ask  this  committee 
to  devise  any  means  to  suppress  the  evils  of  which  they  com- 
plain, and  which  they  describe  as  intolerable.  I  would  say 
myself  at  once  that,  so  far  as  I  am  concerned,  I  am  perfectly 
prepared  to  support  the  Government  in  any  demand  they  may 
make  upon  their  own  responsibility  to  terminate  an  evil  which 
they  describe,  and  I  believe  justly  describe,  as  intolerable. 
There  is  no  need  to  enter  into  an  antiquated  history  of  the 
horrors  of  Ribandism  to  induce  the  House  of  Commons  to  come 
to  this  conclusion.  We  know  the  evil.  We  have  long  heard 
of  the  evil  and  of  the  perpetration  of  these  new  crimes  and 
these  new  horrors;  and  I  was  only  astonished  that  in  Her 
Majesty's  gracious  Speech  from  the  Throne  they  were  not  re- 
ferred to  with  more  distinctness.  We  have  recently  had  from 
the  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland  an  announcement  with  reference 
to  them  which  prepared  us  for  the  legislation  which  I  suppose 


WESTMEATH   COMMITTEE,    FEBEUARY   1871.  367 

\ 

the  Government  will  come  forward  and  propose;  and  if  the 
Government  would  come  forward  and  propose  a  remedy,  I  think 
I  might  venture  to  answer  for  every  gentleman  on  this  side  of 
the  House  that  he  would  give  it  an  unflinching  support. 

The  evil  is  intolerable  and  ought  to  be  put  down,  and  we 
are  prepared  to  support  Her  Majesty's  Government  if,  in  the 
exercise  of  their  constitutional  functions,  they  come  forward 
and  propose  a  measure  instead  of  asking  the  House  of  Commons 
to  enter  upon  an  inquiry  into  the  matter.  The  matter  is  urgent,, 
and  the  business  of  a  committee  is  necessarily  always  long. 
A  committee — to  do  what  ? — to  examine  officers  of  the  Govern- 
ment, to  examine  magistrates,  to  call  for  information  from  a 
miscellaneous  multitude  of  witnesses  ?  Why,  a  committee  of 
inquiry  for  such  purposes  is  always  in  existence.  It  is  the 
cabinet  of  the  Queen.  They  have  the  best  information,  and 
they  are  selected  men,  who  are  supposed  to  be  most  competent 
to  decide  on  that  information ;  and  on  the  results  of  their  de- 
liberations and  on  their  convictions  they  ought  to  introduce  a 
measure  and  not  move  for  a  committee,  when  the  state  of  an 
Irish  county  is  intolerable.  Let  the  standing  orders  be  sus- 
pended if  the  case  is  urgent. 

The  noble  lord  has  made  some  reference,  from  that  richness 
of  precedent  with  which  he  has  been  crammed  on  this  occasion, 
to  what  occurred  in  1852,  and  in  the  midst  of  the  distress  of 
this  regenerating  Government  of  Ireland,  supported  by  a 
hundred  legions,  and  elected  by  an  enthusiastic  people,  in 
order  to  terminate  the  grievances  of  that  country  and  secure 
its  contentment  and  tranquillity,  he  must  needs  dig  up  our 
poor  weak  Government  of  1852,  and  say,  'There  was  Mr. 
Napier,  your  Attorney-General,  he  moved  for  a  committee,  and 
you  were  a  member  of  that  cabinet.'  If  I  had  had  a  majority 
of  one  hundred  behind  my  back  I  would  not  have  moved  for 
that  committee.  I  did  the  best  I  could,  and  I  passed  a  good 
Bill  by  a  respectable  majority. 

But  was  the  situation  in  which  I  was  placed  similar  to  the 
situation  of  Her  Majesty's  present  ministers  ?  Look  for  a 
moment  to  the  relations  which  this  Government  bear  to  the 
House  of  Commons  with  regard  to  the  administration  of  Ireland. 


368  SPEECHES   OF  THE  EARL   OF  BEACONSFIELD. 

The  right  honourable  gentleman  opposite  (Mr.  Gladstone)  was 
-elected  for  a  specific  purpose :  he  was  the  minister  who  alone 
was  capable  to  cope  with  these  long-enduring  and  mysterious 
evils  that  had  tortured  and  tormented  the  civilisation  of  England. 
The  right  honourable  gentleman  persuaded  the  people  of  Eng- 
land that  with  regard  to  Irish  politics  he  was  in  possession  of 
the  philosopher's  stone.  Well,  Sir,  he  has-been  returned  to  this 
House  with  an  immense  majority,  with  the  object  of  securing 
the  tranquillity  and  content  of  Ireland.  Has  anything  been 
grudged  him  ?  Time,  labour,  devotion — whatever  has  been 
demanded  has  been  accorded,  whatever  has  been  proposed  has 
been  carried.  Under  his  influence  and  at  his  instance  we  have 
legalised  confiscation,  consecrated  sacrilege,  condoned  high 
treason ;  we  have  destroyed  churches,  we  have  shaken  property 
to  its  foundation,  and  we  have  emptied  gaols;  and  now  he 
cannot  govern  a  county  without  coming  to  a  Parliamentary 
committee !  The  right  honourable  gentleman,  after  all  his 
heroic  exploits,  and  at  the  head  of  his  great  majority,  is  making 
Government  ridiculous. 

If  he  persists  in  this  absurd  suggestion  I  shall  leave  it  to 
fortune  to  decide  what  may  be  its  results.  If  he  will  bring 
forward  a  measure — an  adequate  measure — a  measure  which 
will  meet  the  evil,  he  will  be  supported.  The  late  Secretary  of 
the  Lord  Lieutenant  knows  very  well  what  is  the  measure  that 
will  meet  the  evil,  because  he  plaintively  asked  the  magistrates 
at  Meath  what  he  should  propose  to  help  them  out  of  their 
difficulties ;  and  they  met  in  quarter  sessions,  passed  a  resolution, 
and  told  him  what  was  necessary.  What  the  magistrates  told 
the  late  Secretary  of  the  Lord  Lieutenant  will  be  the  ground- 
work, the  gist,  and  the  pith  of  the  measure  which  Her  Majesty's 
Government  must  bring  forward.  Under  certain  circumstances 
they  will  have  to  suspend  the  Habeas  Corpus  Act ;  but  after 
the  flashy  speeches  of  the  right  honourable  gentleman  opposite 
upon  that  subject,  we  must  have  a  Parliamentary  committee  as 
•a  veil  in  order  that  he  may  save  his  self-love. 


369 


UNIVERSITY   EDUCATION   BILL   (IRELAND),   March   11, 

1873.1 

[This  Bill  was  introduced  by  Mr.  Gladstone  on  February  13.  It 
was  generally  believed  at  the  time  that  Cardinal  Manning  had  induced 
Mr.  Gladstone  to  think  that  the  Catholics  would  accept  the  Bill ;  but 
that  it  was  thrown  over  under  peremptory  orders  from  Rome.  The 
debate  on  the  second  reading,  the  rejection  of  which  was  moved  by 
Mr.  Bourke,  began  on  March  3,  and  after  lasting  four  nights  ended 
in  the  defeat  of  the  Government  by  a  majority  of  3 — the  Ayes  being 
284,  the  Noes  287.  It  had  been  supported  at  first  because  Mr.  Glad- 
stone was  understood  to  say  the  Roman  Catholic  hierarchy  would 
accept  the  compromise.  A  declaration  from  the  Roman  Catholic 
bishops  published  on  February  28  destroyed  all  expectation  that 
the  Bill  would  be  a  settlement  of  the  question.  The  exclusion  from 
the  teaching  of  the  new  University  of  theology,  ethics,  and  meta- 
physics, completed  its  discomfiture.  Both  Roman  Catholics  and 
advanced  Liberals  combined  against  it  and  ensured  its  rejection.  Mr. 
Disraeli  spoke  on  the  last  night  of  the  debate,  and  his  speech,  according 
to  the  Times,  turned  the  scale.  Mr.  Cardwell  had  said  on  a  previous 
night  that  the  Government  were  ready  to  make  all  concessions  that  were 
required  in  a  Liberal  direction.  Many  members,  however,  did  not 
happen  to  hear  what  fell  from  Mr.  Gladstone  afterwards,  just  as  the 
House  was  breaking  up.  The  Prime  Minister  said  that  the  statement  of 
the  Secretary  for  War  only  meant  that  Government  would  be  perfectly 
willing  to  consider  certain  questions  in  Committee.  Mr.  Disraeli 
acted  on  this  rather  untimely  explanation  with  practised  skill,  and 
brought  it  up  again  on  the  last  night  to  bear  upon  those  wavering 
Liberals  who,  doubtful  from  the  first  of  the  intentions  of  Govern- 
ment, had  been  nearly  reassured  by  Mr.  Card  well's  declaration.] 

ME.   DISKAELI :  Sir,  I  think  it  convenient  occasionally  in 
a  long  debate,  and  especially  at  the  period  at  which  this 
has  arrived,  that  the  House  should  take  a  general  view  of  its 

1  This  speech  is  reprinted  from  Hansard's  Debates  by  permission  of  Mr. 
Hansard. 

VOL.   II.  BE 


370  SPEECHES   OF  THE   EAKL   OF   BEACONSFIELD. 

position,  and  ascertain,  and  accurately  as  it  can,  what  is  the  real 
issue  before  it.  Now,  Sir,  in  the  course  of  this  discussion 
which  has  occupied  much  time,  but  the  duration  of  which  ought 
not  to  be  measured  by  the  time  which  has  elapsed  since  it  com- 
menced, because  during  that  period  several  evenings  have  been 
devoted  to  other  subjects,  many  admissions  have  been  made 
and  many  remarks  have  be